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Returning to the UK, benefit delays and sanctions

There may be instances when a person who is eligible for benefits is unable receive these for a short period. This could affect British and Irish citizens, and people who are settled in the UK, such as a person with indefinite leave to remain or settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Returning to the UK after living abroad

To qualify for certain benefits, including Universal Credit, British and Irish citizens, and people with settled status, must meet the Habitual Residence Test (HRT). If a person has been living outside of the Common Travel Area (the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man) they may not be able to satisfy the HRT immediately on their return to the UK and may not be able to receive benefits for a temporary period of up to three months. However, if the person was living within the Common Travel Area before returning to the UK, they should be considered to be habitually resident on arrival.

The following organisations provide more information about the Habitual Residence Test: 

Benefit delays and sanctions

Some benefits are not paid immediately after a claim has been made and some benefits can be sanctioned.

Universal Credit is usually only paid around five weeks after the initial claim has been made. 

Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, and Jobseeker's Allowance can be sanctioned (temporarily stopped or reduced) when the Department for Work and Pensions believes a person has not met the rules for claiming.  

If a benefit has been sanctioned, it may be possible to apply for a hardship payment from the DWP or help from a council's welfare assistance scheme. For further details about these and other options, see the government information about financial support when Universal Credit payments are delayed or sanctioned and Money Helper's information about what to do when a benefit is sanctioned