Change in circumstances

Here's what to do if there has been a change in your circumstances when you're receiving Universal Credit.

What to do if your circumstances change

The way that changes in circumstances are dealt with by Universal Credit are very different to any of the legacy benefits. The key thing is, you must inform Universal Credit as soon as you know your circumstances have changed.

You need to report any changes in your circumstances that might affect your claim for Universal Credit, including which conditionality group you are in. This can include:

  • having a baby
  • having caring responsibilities
  • becoming sick

You do not need to tell Universal Credit about changes in wages as these are picked up directly from HMRC.

You will have to sign into your online Universal Credit account and report the change in your online journal. Or if you’re claiming offline, you will need to contact the UC helpline.

Universal Credit helpline number: 0800 328 5644


The changes to your Universal Credit will happen from the beginning of your Monthly Assessment Period (MAP) when your change in circumstances happened.
There are exceptions to this including:

  • If you’ve notified a beneficial change 'late'
  • Changes to 'relevant benefits'

If you have a change that means you should get more Universal Credit (the DWP call this a beneficial change of circumstances) then you need to tell the DWP before the end of your Monthly Assessment Period (MAP) that the change happened so that your benefit award is changed from the start of that period.

Changes like this could include if you have another baby or a grown up child leaves the household.

  • If you don't tell the DWP about the change within the Monthly Assessment Period that it happened then it could mean that you will miss out on extra Universal Credit.
    The Universal Credit award will not be reassessed until you have provided the evidence that the DWP need - and this has been verified. You might be asked to attend an interview at the Job Centre to do this.

  • If you do not provide the information needed within the set time limit the DWP can make a decision without this extra information/or evidence or they can suspend the your Universal Credit award (in whole or in part) and eventually close it down.

The key thing to remember with Universal Credit is that it works on the idea of the “whole month” whatever situation you are in on your assessment date.

The Housing Cost Element of your Universal Credit will then be based on the whole of that Monthly Assessment Period i.e. the one in which you moved, regardless of the date you actually moved in (as long as you have moved in by the end of that MAP). For example, if Fred moved house and was on Universal Credit, he will have to make up the higher rent to his former Landlord for the last month of his tenancy.  He will have been charged £700.00 but will only receive £424.00. 


Fred claims Universal Credit he currently rents a property that is £700.00 per month.  He is then given a Peaks & Plains property which is £106.00 per week (£424 per month). 

Fred’s assessment date is 22nd of the month.  He signs his new tenancy agreement on 5th March and moves in straight away. When he receives his Universal Credit payment on 29th March his Housing Cost Element will be paid at £424.00.

If you move into one of our properties and you need help with your rent, you will have make a claim to Universal credit. This is because there will be no new claims to legacy benefits. If you are already receiving Housing Benefit and there are no other changes in your circumstances, you will remain on Housing Benefit.

If you move into one of our properties and you are currently getting Housing Benefit, and your move also means that you move local Authority e.g. if your old tenancy is in High Peak and you move to Cheshire East or similar then you will have to make a claim to Universal Credit.

If you move into one of our properties and you are currently getting Housing Benefit for help with your rent and your move means that you stay within the current local authority plus you have no other changes in your circumstances, you should advise the Local Authority of your change of address and you should then stay on Housing Benefit.

0800 328 5644

The Universal Credit phone lines are now free and nobody will be charged when they need to call to get help with their Universal Credit claim.

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