How a change of circumstances affects universal credit

Changes in your income or your household can affect the amount of universal credit you get.

For example:

  • rent increases

  • moving home

  • other people moving in or out

How to tell the DWP about changes

Report changes through your universal credit account.

The DWP may ask for proof of the change. You should try to provide this as soon as possible and within any time limit they set.

Tell the DWP if you do not have the information. For example, if you're asked for a new tenancy agreement but have not been given one.

Find out what to do if your payments are suspended after reporting a change.

Changes to report

Changes you need to tell the DWP about include:

Rent increases

Your housing element usually goes up if you're a council or housing association tenant.

It probably won't change if you rent privately. This is because the most you can get is the local housing allowance (LHA) rate for your household.

You move to a new address

If you start paying rent a housing element can be included in your universal credit.

If you already get the housing element, it's worked out based on your new rent.

Starting or ending a job

Tell your work coach if you change jobs, lose your job or start a new job.

Changes in your household

These include if you:

  • have a baby or adopt a child

  • start paying for registered childcare

  • move in with or separate from a partner

  • have a disabled child who gets DLA or PIP

Bereavement

When there is a death in your household, you should get a bereavement run on.

This means for up to 3 months your universal credit is worked out as if the person had not died. Your payments will not usually drop right away.

Changes that can affect your housing element

These can be if:

  • you become a foster carer

  • a friend or family member moves in

  • your child reaches an age where they're not expected to share a bedroom

  • a disabled household member cannot share a bedroom or needs an overnight carer

These can affect how many bedrooms you can claim for.

Tell the DWP if someone moves out. Your money may go down but some temporary absences are allowed.

Adults aged 21 or over who live in your home

Most adults aged 21 or over who live in your home are expected to contribute to your rent.

The DWP make a monthly deduction of £75.53 from your universal credit for each adult expected to contribute.

Tell the DWP if:

  • someone you live with turns 21

  • someone aged 21 or over moves in or out

The DWP must not make this deduction if anyone in your household gets PIP (daily living), DLA (middle or high rate care) or attendance allowance.

Find out more about housing costs contributions.

Reporting changes in earned income

Wages and self employed earnings affect how much universal credit you get each month.

Your universal credit is usually reduced by 55p for every £1 you earn above what you would get if you were unemployed.

You don't have to report income changes if your employer reports them for you.

You must report income changes each month if you're:

  • self employed

  • told to report income changes when working for an employer

GOV.UK explains how to report self employed earnings.

Work allowances

Families with children and some disabled people get a work allowance.

This is not an extra amount but it means you can earn some money each month without losing money from your universal credit.

You can earn:

  • £344 a month - if you get the housing element

  • £573 a month - if you do not get the housing element

If your earnings go up and down

Your universal credit will go up and down if:

  • your earned income varies

  • you get paid weekly, fortnightly or every 4 weeks

GOV.UK explains how earnings affect universal credit.

Your universal credit payment usually stays the same if you get the same wages on the same date each month.

When a change takes effect

Your universal credit payment is calculated over a monthly assessment period.

The change applies from the start of the assessment period in which it happens as long as you report it during that assessment period.

Example

Your assessment period runs from 12 November to 11 December.

You have your first child on 2 December and report the change before 11 December.

Your next universal credit payment will include a child element from 12 November.

You will get this around 18 December because universal credit is paid in arrears.

Reporting changes late

Try to report changes during the assessment period in which they happen.

Reporting changes after the end of the assessment period could mean you either:

  • have to repay an overpayment

  • lose out on money that you were entitled to

If you have a good reason for the delay, you can ask for an extension to report the change. For example, if you were in hospital at the time.


Last updated: 13 April 2022

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