Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.

Coronavirus: Universal Credit - Stuck Abroad?
Universal Credit - Stuck Abroad?
Due to the Coronavirus some people are stuck abroad and struggling to get back to the UK.

On Universal Credit

There has been no change to the UC Regulations on being temporarily away from home. Entitlement ends once the claimant has been out of Great Britain for more than a month.

Anyone in this position needs to contact their landlord to explain the situation, and contact the British Embassy /Consulate in the country where they are staying, to request assistance. Contact details on this gov.uk page.

They should also follow the advice about seeking local support and/or applying for an emergency government loan, as given in the parliamentary answer below; they should also check to see if their travel insurance covers rent payments while away.

Not already on UC, or UC terminated?

If they are not already on UC, we do not think that they will be able to make a new claim for it if they are stuck abroad, even if they have no income for the period they are abroad. 

If they have a partner who is still in the UK, their partner might be able to claim as a single person until the partner who is abroad returns. 

If they don't have a partner and they need help paying their rent, it is worth checking to see if there is anyone else living in the property who may already be getting UC or could make a new claim for it - they may be able to get help with the rent if the DWP considers it reasonable to treat them as liable for the rent in the tenant's absence.


In a  parliamentary answer in relation to people stranded abroad, on 22nd June 2020, Justin Tomlinson stated:

"FCO consular staff continue to provide advice and support to British nationals who face financial difficulties overseas due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Those in real financial distress whilst stranded overseas can seek advice and support from their local consular team, who will be able to advise on any local support that may be available as well as facilitate contact with friends and families who may be able to help. The FCO are also working with Non-Governmental Organisations to facilitate support to British nationals in need, including accommodation, food and medicine.

If a British national cannot afford travel costs back to the UK or essential living costs while they are waiting to return and have exhausted all other options they may be eligible to apply for an emergency loan from the government. These loans are interest free. This is a last resort option, with repayment required in full. However, the FCO would work with those British nationals’ currently stranded overseas to ensure flexible repayment plans are in place if they cannot afford to repay the loan within six months.


Frequently Asked Questions
I am looking for advice to help one of our customers.

She travelled to Morocco in December 2020 to visit family – the plan was to stay for 3 weeks. Soon after she arrived, the airport was locked down due to Covid-19 and was only re-opened in June 2021. She returned to the UK in June.  

She continued to receive UC whilst she was there but I think that’s because she didn’t notify UC that she was stranded abroad. I can see that UC is only awarded for up to 1 month for temporary absence abroad but just wanted to check whether there is any additional provision due to Covid related circumstances. 
I also wanted to get some advice on whether she should now notify the UC dept that she was abroad because I guess if this comes to light at a later date she will have a large overpayment.

You are right that she has been overpaid. UC should only have continued for a maximum of one month; there were no special rules due to Covid. She should notify DWP.

One very slim possibility is that, when they discover she has been overpaid, the DWP could use their discretion not to recover it. If recovery would cause her severe hardship, she should provide details so they can take that into account.