Universal Credit recipients have been warned they face going to court or fines over failure to report certain changes.

Claimants must promptly inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of any life changes such as a new phone number or email, switching bank accounts, moving home, or rent alterations.

The DWP's official guidance on GOV. UK warns: "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."

Claimants must communicate changes "as soon as they happen" to prevent overpayments which would need to be paid back.

The DWP said: "Changes in your circumstances can affect how much you're paid for your whole assessment period - not just from the date you report them."

To update their details, claimants should access their Universal Credit account via Gov.uk.

Changes can include:

  • finding or finishing a job
  • having a child
  • moving in with your partner
  • starting to care for a child or disabled person
  • changing your mobile number or email address
  • changing your email address

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  • moving to a new address
  • changing your bank details
  • your rent going up or down
  • changes to your health condition
  • becoming too ill to work or meet your work coach
  • changes to your earnings - only if you’re self-employed
  • changes to your savings, investments and how much money you have
  • changes to your immigration status, if you’re not a British citizen

Since October 2012, the DWP has had the power to impose a fine on benefit claimants who have received an overpayment due to not informing authorities of a change in circumstances.

The ‘civil penalty’ is £50 and will be added to the amount of the overpayment and will be recovered by the same method.