Changes you need to report if you get benefits

If you are getting benefits and your circumstances have changed, it may affect the amount of benefit that you can claim. Find out which changes you have to report.

If your circumstances change

If you have any change in your circumstances that may affect the amount of benefit you receive, you should notify the relevant benefit departments immediately. If you don't, you could end up being paid too much benefit and having to pay it back. You never know - you might be entitled to more benefit.

If your change of circumstances does affect the amount of benefit you receive, this may be effective either immediately or on the Monday after the change took place.

Changes you must report

You must report changes about:

Changes to your rent

If your rent changes and you get Universal Credit the amount you get towards your housing costs will change. If you get Housing Benefit instead of Universal Credit the amount will change.

You should also report a change if your landlord receives a rent penalty notice and you don't need to pay any rent for a period of time.

Changes to who lives with you

You need to report change if:

  • you marry, enter a civil partnership, start cohabiting, divorce or separate

  • someone moves out or into your house

  • you move house

  • you have a baby or adopt

  • someone in your household dies

  • someone in your household becomes a student

  • you sublet your house

  • you take in a lodger

  • someone goes into, or comes out of, hospital or prison

  • you are going to be away from your home for a while, for example working away or going on an extended holiday.

Changes to financial circumstances

You must report a change if you (or someone living with you):

  • stop or start receiving another benefit

  • move to another benefit, for example, from Employment and Support Allowance to Jobseeker's Allowance

  • have a change to the amount of benefit or tax credit you get

  • have to pay back money to Working or Child Tax Credit

  • have an increase or decrease to your savings

  • have a change to the amount of pension you get.

You need to report any changes to you or your partner's income, but you don't need to report changes to the benefits you receive due to annual benefits increases.

Changes related to employment and education

You must report a change if you (or someone living with you):

  • become a student

  • get a job or change job

  • change hours or get a pay rise.

  • are off work and start receiving Statutory Sick Pay or reduced pay.

Changes related to children

You must report a change if:

  • someone in your household has a baby

  • a child in your house turns 16

  • a child in your house leaves school

  • you start or stop receiving benefit for a child.

How to report a change in my circumstances

You need to tell the relevant benefit department straight away.

If you get Universal Credit

You must report any changes that could affect your Universal Credit entitlement as soon as you can after the change occurs.

Supporting evidence

You may be asked for further information or evidence. You should be told when and how to provide this, for example:

  • online

  • by taking documents into Jobcentre Plus

Your Universal Credit payments can be suspended or stopped if you don't provide the evidence required.

You must be given at least 14 days to provide the evidence. If the required information can't be provided within the timescale or doesn't exist you should explain why.

If you get Housing Benefit

To report a change of circumstance you should write to the Housing Benefit department at your council as soon as possible.

Use our template letter to report a change in your circumstances.

It's best to deliver the letter in person if you can and ask for a receipt and keep this in a safe place. If this is not possible, keep a copy of the letter and post by recorded delivery. This will help avoid problems if it gets lost.

If a recent birth or death could affect your benefits, it may be possible to tell the council about your change of circumstances by telephone or in person. Not all councils will allow this - check first.

If you get any other benefits

Some benefits are paid my different departments so its best to make sure you let them all know about any changes. You might have contact details on any letters you have about your benefit payments.

You can also find details on the UK government page: Benefits - report a change in circumstances.

Starting work or earning more money - 'extended Housing Benefit'

If other benefits you receive are stopping because you are returning to work, or will be working more hours or earning more money, you may be entitled to 'extended payment of Housing Benefit' for an extra four weeks, to help you pay your rent.

If you are overpaid benefit

An adviser can check if the benefit department have made a mistake or help you challenge the decision if the reason you were paid too much benefit was not your fault.

If the benefit department has not made a mistake and you have to pay the money back, they can either send you a bill or take the money off future benefit payments.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 6 January 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England