Universal Credit: What change in circumstances can affect payments?

Universal Credit is the new system brought in to provide income and support to vulnerable people throughout the UK. The support is primarily aimed at those on low incomes, who are out of work or who have certain disabilities.


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Universal Credit is being gradually introduced and as it stands, it is not compulsory to move from an old benefit system to this new one.

There are six benefits that Universal Credit is replacing and these are:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

The government details that anyone who claims any of the old benefits do not need to take any action.

They detail that the claimant will only need to take action if they have a change in circumstances that needs to be reported.

Alternatively, some claimants may be contacted directly by the Department for Work and Pensions and instructed to make changes.

There are many “changes in circumstance” that need to be reported to the state and some will prove especially prudent in the coming weeks.

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A change in circumstances need to be reported immediately as it may affect a person’s income.

The government details that changes can include:

  • finding or finishing a job
  • having a child
  • moving in with a partner
  • starting to care for a child or disabled person
  • moving to a new address
  • changing bank details
  • rent going up or down
  • changes to a health condition
  • becoming too ill to work or meet a work coach
  • changes to earnings (only for the self-employed)


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Some of these changes will become more of an issue for some as coronavirus develops.

As a result of the virus pandemic spreading, many may lose income or employment entirely as businesses across the country take precautions.

On top of this, many who catch the illness will be required to self-isolate.

This will mean that it will become impossible for meetings with work coaches to occur.

Thankfully, Rishi Sunak recently made changes to the Universal Credit system in the 2020 budget.

Many of the changes reflected the current dire situation with coronavirus.

As he detailed: “To make sure that time spent off work due to sickness is reflected in your benefits, I’m also temporarily removing the minimum income floor in Universal Credit;

“And I’m relaxing the requirement for anyone to physically attend a jobcentre; everything can be done by phone or online.”

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