DWP holiday warning for Universal Credit and PIP claimants - what you need to know

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued a warning to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Universal Credit claimants who are planning to go on holiday this summer
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued a warning to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Universal Credit claimants who are planning to go on holiday this summer -Credit:PA

As the UK basks in better weather, thoughts often turn to jetting off for a well-deserved break. Yet, those on certain benefits such as 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) of any significant life changes. What some might not know is that going abroad counts too. According to benefit regulations, a holiday can extend up to a month, but claimants are still bound by the terms set when they first applied.

The Government has made it clear: "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.", reports the Manchester Evening News.

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For new Universal Credit applicants, being in the UK on the day of application is a must. However, travelling abroad later that day or returning from a trip on the same day is generally acceptable.

Agreeing to Universal Credit means accepting certain responsibilities, like showing you're actively seeking work. This could mean cutting a trip short for a job interview or to commence employment.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) advises individuals to keep them up-to-date with changes including having a baby, moving house or romantically cohabiting, job departures, ill-health preventing work, inability to meet a work coach, banking details modifications, and contacting information transitions. To advise of these circumstances on Universal Credit, phone the helpline at 0800 328 5644.

When it comes to PIP claimants' travel plans and holidays, official regulations state that the DWP must be made aware of any change in situations. This includes changes such as personal identification transformations, alterations in aid requirements and health standing, declining health conditions forecasting less than a year lifespan, admissions into hospitals or nursing homes, going abroad, detention, and, for non-UK nationals, changes within their immigration status.

The document reads: "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."

There's also been an alert issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for those receiving Personal Independence Payment (PIP) concerning travel plans which could put one's benefits in jeopardy. The guidance says: "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.