Thursday 24th June
As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo advice column this week we focus on Universal Credit sanctions.
I have been contacted by the DWP asking for information to support a claim I made for Universal Credit last year during the pandemic. I am worried that this might mean I can longer receive these payments. What should I do to avoid having my payments stopped?
Those who applied for Universal Credit in the early stages of the pandemic may be contacted by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for some additional information to support claims. To ensure you don’t lose out on money you’re entitled to, make sure the contact information in your online journal is up to date. It’s also important to respond to any calls or emails from the DWP as soon as possible. If you don’t, there’s a risk your benefit payments could be stopped or changed.
Last month, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced it would be investigating more than 1 million claims for Universal Credit from the last year to check for incorrect applications. With millions of people claiming the benefit during the pandemic, some ‘business as usual’ expectations under the DWP ‘trust and protect’ initiative relating to proof of identity, housing costs and household circumstances had been eased to process new claims quickly.
We are advising all claimants to check their online journals weekly and make sure to answer any requests from the DWP quickly. People who applied for Universal Credit as Covid hit could be subject to a benefits check by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Here are our key ‘need-to-knows’ on the DWP’s ‘Trust and Protect’ scheme, and the steps you should take to ensure you don’t lose out on benefits you’re entitled to.
What is the ‘Trust and Protect’ scheme?
- In the early stages of the pandemic last year, the DWP introduced new measures to make sure people could apply for benefits quickly, without the need to visit a Jobcentre. This meant that some of the requirements relating to proof of identity, housing costs and household circumstances were eased.
- The DWP is now looking at all claims made in the early stages of the pandemic and asking people for this evidence to support their application. People who claimed New Style JSA and New Style ESA last spring may also be contacted.
How will the DWP contact me?
- You’ll be contacted via your online journal or a call from your Jobcentre. This may show up as a withheld number. Make sure your contact details are up to date and try to check your online journal at least once a week for new notifications.
- If you’re struggling to manage your online claim for any reason – including lack of access to a computer – you should be able to change to a non-digital claim.
What happens if I can’t provide the right evidence?
- If you can’t provide the right evidence, or you cannot be contacted by officials seeking to verify your claim, your payments could be stopped or changed.
For more information and advice please visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Look out for our column next week when we focus doorstep lenders.
The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk