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Friday, 5 October 2012

Changes that affect your benefit

If you get benefits and your circumstances change, tell your local benefits office as soon as possible. Reporting changes quickly, means you'll get any increase or new benefit faster. For some changes your payments may be reduced. Find out how a change in your circumstances can affect your benefit claim.

Changes you need to report

You must report any change in your circumstances to your local benefit office as soon as it happens, whether or not you think the change is directly related to your benefits.

Some examples of the changes you need to report include:

  • getting married, entering into a civil partnership or moving in with a partner
  • moving house
  • getting a new job, whatever hours you work or pay you receive
  • getting a pay rise
  • inheriting or unexpectedly coming into money
  • taking in a lodger
  • no longer being sick or ill
  • travelling or moving abroad

How changes may affect your benefits

Sometimes a change in your circumstances may mean that your benefit rate will change, or that you become entitled to an additional or a different benefit. For example, if you're a lone parent getting Housing Benefit and you decide to look for work, you may be entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance as well.

Other changes in your circumstances, for example getting a pay rise, may mean you no longer qualify for a benefit or will get a reduced amount.

From 1 October 2012 you may have to pay a £50 financial penalty called a ‘civil penalty’ if you’re benefit is overpaid because you:

  • gave incorrect information and didn’t take reasonable steps to correct your error
  • didn’t tell DWP or your local authority about a change without a reasonable excuse
  • didn’t give DWP or your local authority information without a reasonable excuse

Benefit fraud

If you deliberately fail to report a change in your personal circumstances you are treated as having committed benefit fraud. If you're prosecuted for benefit fraud you could be fined or get a prison sentence.

See 'What happens if you're suspected of benefit fraud?' for the rules about loss of benefit entitlement following a benefit fraud offence.

Other times your benefits may change

Sometimes your benefits may change even when your circumstances remain the same. For example, the government increases most benefit payments to make sure they keep in line with inflation each year. You'll be told of any changes that affect the amount of money you get.

Reporting changes

You can report a change in your circumstances or find out how your benefits might change, by contacting your local benefit office.

Additional links

Benefits advice online

Get benefits advice by using this online tool to answer questions about your situation

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