DWP sends holiday warning to PIP and Universal Credit claimants

As the UK basks in better weather, the lure of a sun-soaked holiday abroad is undeniable.

Yet, those on certain benefits like Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) must be cautious if they’re considering a getaway this summer.

It’s imperative for recipients to inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about any significant changes in their circumstances, which includes trips overseas.

According to benefit regulations, claimants can take a holiday for up to one month, but must stick to the conditions agreed upon when they first applied for the support.

The Government has warned: “You need to report changes to your circumstances so you keep getting the right amount each month. You need to report changes as soon as they happen. Any delay may mean you receive too much money and will have to make a repayment.

“Changes in your circumstances can affect how much you’re paid for your whole assessment period – not just from the date you report them.”

For new Universal Credit applicants, it’s essential to be in the UK on the application day, although travelling later that day or returning from a trip is generally acceptable, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Signing up for Universal Credit comes with commitments, such as actively seeking employment. This might necessitate cutting a holiday short for a job interview or to commence work.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) must be notified of any significant changes such as welcoming a new baby, moving in with your partner or to a new location, leaving employment, inability to work due to illness, or any changes to bank details or contact information. In these instances, the DWP urges claimants to call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

Particular rules apply to those in receipt of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) while travelling or on holiday. The government’s advice for PIP claimants states that the DWP must be informed should there be any changes to personal circumstances or details.

These can include amendments to care requirements or health conditions, deteriorating health with less than twelve months to live, admissions to hospital or care homes, travel abroad, being sent to prison or, for non-UK nationals, changes to immigration status.

The PIP guide explicitly says: “We will need to know the date the claimant is leaving the country, how long they are planning to be out of the country, which country they are going to and why they are going abroad.”

The DWP has issued a cautionary note to PIP recipients about holiday plans that could potentially affect their benefits.

The department’s guidelines stress: “We need to know if the claimant’s condition, the amount of help they need or their circumstances change. This is because it may change how much PIP they can get.

“It is important the claimant tells DWP straight away about any changes in their life that could affect their benefit. Based on these changes their benefit may go up, go down, stay the same or it may stop. If the claimant is overpaid, they will normally have to repay the money. Failure to tell DWP about any of these changes may result in prosecution.

“A temporary absence abroad for up to 13 weeks may be allowed, or up to 26 weeks if the absence is specifically for medical treatment. The claimant should notify us if they are planning to go abroad for four weeks or more.”

Furthermore, the DWP cautions: “You could be taken to court or have to pay a penalty if you give wrong information or do not report a change in your circumstances.”

Additionally, the DWP advises that failing to report changes promptly could lead to a requirement to repay some of the benefit received. Claimants can inform the PIP enquiry line of any changes by calling 0800 121 4433.


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