Benefits FAQ’s

IMPORTANT FACTS -What is benefit fraud?

  • Benefit fraud is when someone is dishonest in order to receive benefits, or knowingly fails to report a change in their circumstances.
  • You need to tell your benefits office about any changes in circumstances as soon as possible. They will tell you if it affects your benefits.
  • Some changes may mean you’re entitled to new or additional benefits, but others could mean you no longer qualify for benefits, or should receive a lower amount. You may be overpaid if the benefits office doesn’t know about your changed circumstances.

VIDEO- Benefit fraud is taken very seriously as shown by this DWP advert 

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE- Mark Hawthorn was jailed for 6 months for falsely claiming £84,000 in DLA. He claimed he could barely walk but was caught out when investigators saw footage of him working as a drag queen. Read the full story here.

What happens to my benefits if I’m volunteering?

  • Volunteering shouldn’t affect your right to benefits, as long as the only money you receive is to cover expenses such as travel from home to your volunteering location. 
  • There are no limits on the amount of time you can volunteer for, nor any restrictions on the types of organisation you can volunteer for. The only requirement is that you continue to meet the conditions of the benefit or tax credit you are receiving.  For example, if you receive Jobseekers Allowance, you can volunteer full time as long as you are still actively seeking employment, and are available to attend job interviews (at 48 hours notice) and undertake paid work (at one week’s notice). 
  • However, if you volunteer full-time and receive an allowance from your volunteering organisation, you will not usually be eligible to receive benefits. It is always advisable to discuss your choice of voluntary work with your benefits adviser before you start.

I’ve just arrived in the UK from another country – can I claim benefits? 

  • Probably not –  people who come to the UK to work can’t usually get public funds, meaning you aren’t eligible for most welfare benefits and local authority housing. However, you might be able to get free NHS treatment, and your children will be allowed to go to state school.
  • If you’re from a country in the European Economic Area (EEA), the rules are different. EEA nationals have the right not to be treated worse than a British citizen. 
  • In practice, you won’t automatically get benefits even if you are from the EEA. For example, if you’re an EEA jobseeker who has never worked in the UK, you won’t be able to claim benefits like Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Benefit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit. But if you’re an EEA worker who has been employed in the UK before becoming unemployed, you might be able to claim benefits whilst you’re looking for new work. This depends on which EEA country you’re from and how long you’ve worked in the UK.
  • When we leave the European Union we will probably leave the EEA, meaning that EEA citizens will have the same rights as non-EEA citizens when in the UK, and may no longer be able to claim unemployment benefit – but the rules will be confirmed later on. 

How do I claim benefits? 

  • Benefits can be claimed by calling JobCentre Plus or by visiting DWP’s website.
  • They require key information such as your National Insurance number, bank account details and details about rent/mortgage, employment, income and savings.

How are benefits paid?

  • Most benefits are paid into a bank account. Basic, current, Post Office, building society and credit union accounts are all acceptable for benefit payments. 

What’s a couple / who is a partner?

    Jobcentre Plus will treat you as a couple if you live with a partner – either married or in a civil partnership, or living as if you were. 

What is a benefit sanction?

  • A sanction is when benefits are temporarily stopped or reduced.
  • A sanction can be applied if a benefit claimant does not follow official agreements e.g. applying for a job or going to an interview for JSA.

What do I do if I disagree with a benefits decision?

  • If you don’t agree with the decision the benefits office has made, you can ask them to explain or reconsider it. If you’re unhappy with their reconsidered decision, you can appeal.
  •  You have a one month deadline:

– to ask for a decision to be explained, reconsidered or appealed

-to start an appeal after receiving a reconsidered decision

  • A late appeal may be accepted if you have special circumstances that prevented you appealing in time, but you cannot appeal if more than 13 months have passed.
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