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Pandemic benefits claimants face extra checks

Written by: Emma Lunn
People who applied for Universal Credit as Covid hit might now have to provide proof that they were entitled to the money, as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) introduces further checks.

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.

It introduced a system called Trust and Protect which allowed applications to proceed without the normal confirmatory checks and meant that some of the requirements relating to proof of identity, housing costs and household circumstances were eased.

However, the DWP has now set up a team tasked with examining all claims made under this fast -track process since last spring.

People who claimed Universal Credit, ‘new style’ Jobseekers Allowance, and ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance last spring may now be contacted by the DWP. Benefits claimants will be contacted via their online journal or a call from the Jobcentre – this may show up as a withheld number.

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.

Lawrence Barratt, Citizens Advice benefits expert, said: “If you applied for Universal Credit in the early stages of the pandemic then the DWP may contact you for some additional information to support your claim.

“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.

“Citizens Advice can support you with free, independent advice if you’re struggling to provide the evidence you need or have any other questions about Universal Credit.”

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