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Universal Credit is being introduced in the borough.
We are now in Universal Credit 'full service'.
Universal Credit is a single monthly payment which will replace six means tested benefits. These are:
- Housing Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment Support Allowance
Our Quick Guide to Universal Credit helps explain more about the changes.
Who will be affected?
New single job seekers allowance claimants, new claims from working age families with less than three children, and current benefit recipients who have a change in their circumstance will move to Universal Credit. Universal Credit will not affect pensioners.
More information on Universal Credit can be found at gov.uk.
Some useful information about Universal Credit for Landlords can be found here: Top tips for landlords
If you are awarded Universal Credit you will receive an allowance for your living expenses and housing costs where applicable. This is normally paid one month in arrears so you should take steps to ensure that you are able to discharge your rent liability. In some circumstances it may be possible for your Landlord to receive housing costs direct.
Those residents needing budgeting support will be referred to Citizen's Advice. The Council has an arrangement in place with Citizens Advice to provide personal budgeting support. Citizens Advice are based in the council offices at Campus East and at our Hatfield housing office every week day.
We've also produced a guide for landlords to explain the changes.
How do I apply?
Residents who are entitled to receive Universal Credit are encouraged to apply online, but you can apply over the phone or in person if you need to. Visit the Citizens Advice website for more information.
Citizens Advice Welwyn Hatfield offers support with making a new claim for Universal Credit, from opening your account to receiving your first full payment. You can visit them at First Floor Queensway House, Queensway, Hatfield, AL10 0LW please see their website for opening times, call 0800 144 8 444 or use their webchat service.
How long does it take?
Make sure you apply as soon as your circumstances change and you need help; it can take up to six weeks for the first payment to arrive when you make a new claim. From February 2018, this wait will be reduced to 5 weeks.
Personal Budgeting Support
Personal Budgeting Support (PBS) under full service remains the same. It is about helping claimants adapt to 3 key changes:
- a single household payment
- being paid monthly and
- rent paid directly to the claimant instead of to the Landlord
There are 2 elements to Personal Budgeting Support:
- Money Advice
- Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA)
There is also a Universal Credit personal planner available online to help claimants identify any changes they may need to make in order to manage their Universal Credit claim.
Citizens Advice will be able to offer advice on budgeting.
Managed payments to Landlord
We expect most Universal Credit claimants will receive the single monthly payment, taking responsibility for paying their own household bills including their rent on time.
However, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recognise that some claimants will need extra support and so alternative payment arrangements including a managed payment of the Universal Credit housing cost to the landlord can be considered in some cases to help protect tenancies.
Managed payments will be considered by the DWP on a case-by-case basis and can be requested by landlords as well as claimants. They can be considered on request from the start of the claim or during the claim if the claimant has accumulated rent arrears which will put their tenancy at risk.
What to consider
When a claimant has accumulated one month's rent arrears due to persistent underpayment, the DWP will review the financial support they need and, if requested by the claimant or landlord, will consider making managed payments to their landlord if appropriate.
If a claimant has accrued two month's rent arrears, the DWP will, if requested by the landlord, pay the Universal Credit housing costs direct to the landlord and take steps to recover the rent arrears through deductions from their remaining Universal Credit payment.
How to request a managed payment
Landlords can use the UC47 form on gov.uk to apply for a managed payment of the housing costs and recovery of arrears.
The information they will need to supply includes
- tenants name, address, and if known their date of birth and National Insurance number
- current tenancy agreement including
- proof of the rent arrears which must include the amount of rent outstanding and the amount of rent due each calendar month
- the landlord's contact details - their name and address plus their bank/ building society account number and sort code for the payments.
- any reference number / transaction ID for that tenant
- the social landlords DWP creditor reference number
Once Universal Credit receives this information they will decide whether or not a managed payment is appropriate and inform both the landlord and claimant.
The claimant will also be offered Personal Budgeting Support.
Frequently asked questions
Will a claimant have a managed payment to their landlord from the start of their claim, if they are already in rent arrears when they make a claim for Universal Credit?
It will depend on the claimant's level of arrears and their particular circumstances. When a Universal Credit claim is made, Universal Credit will offer the claimant Personal Budgeting Support and through this process decide if a managed payment to the landlord is needed. All cases will be looked at on an individual basis.
Can landlords contact Universal Credit to ask for a managed payment from the start due to the claimant having significant rent arrears?
Yes, Landlords can contact Universal Credit as stated in an earlier slide to request a managed payment from the start. Once the necessary information is received the Universal Credit agent will then decide if a managed payment is appropriate and inform the landlord and claimant.
Can rent arrears be recovered from claimants through a deduction to their Universal Credit?
Yes, arrears of rent and service charges for the property the tenant is currently living in are included in the list of deductions that can be made from a Universal Credit payment.
What budgeting support will be available and how do claimants access this?
Personal budgeting support will be offered to anyone claiming Universal Credit. Claimants needing help with monthly budgeting will be identified at their first Universal Credit appointment with the Jobcentre and will be referred for personal budgeting support
Many claimants will be able to help themselves through the online budgeting support services that are already available, and we will help people who have a clear need for more intensive support.
Money advice will be offered at a national and local level, and will include a mix of online, phone and face to face services.
Will managed payments be reviewed?
Yes, all managed payment will be subject to a review. The Universal Credit agent will decide the review period taking into account the claimant's particular circumstances and level of rent arrears. At the review, they will decide if the claimant is now capable of managing the standard monthly payment.
When would a managed payment not be considered appropriate?
A managed payment is not considered appropriate if there is no financial risk to the claimant or their family and/or any rent arrears are being satisfactorily managed.