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Universal Credit update

Tuesday 13 November 2018

With Universal Credit (UC) being in the news so frequently, it's easy to loose track of recent changes and advice. So, to help you, we've highlighted some of the key messages from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and provided links for further information.

Following the Budget on 29 October 2018, HM Treasury published a policy paper called Universal Credit: Budget 2018 brief. This announced a £1,000 increase in work allowances in Universal Credit, and additional support for individuals moving onto the new benefit.

The Universal Credit and Rented Housing Guide for Landlords provides private and social sector landlords with information about Universal Credit to help them understand what they can do to help their tenants prepare for:

  • their move to the single Universal Credit monthly benefit payment
  • making direct payments of their housing costs (rent) direct to their landlord themselves
  • what budgeting and payment support is available for tenants who may need help moving to the new system
  • information about alternative payment arrangements if claimants are finding it hard to manage their Universal Credit payment and pay their landlord themselves

It contains information for Landlords including:

  • Paying rent
  • Evidence requirements & checking claims
  • Paying for two homes
  • Service charges
  • Support and Alternative Payment Arrangements
  • Recovering rent arrears from a UC claim
  • Budgeting support
  • Discretionary housing payment
  • Specialist accommodation needs

Information for landlords is updated regularly, so please check Gov.uk to find the most up to date version of the UC & Rented Sector Housing Guide and UC47.

UC Full Service Escalation Route for Third Parties

If you have an issue with UC Full Service relating to a specific tenant, claim or payment then in the first instance you should attempt to resolve this with your tenant directly, who may be able to rectify it using the online journal facility. If this is not possible or the issue is still unresolved then you can contact the Service Centre on 0800 328 5644.

For UC Full Service, explicit consent is usually needed from the claimant to talk to a provider/partner organisation. They can provide this via the journal in their digital account or verbally to the Service Centre. They need to include the point of contact and name of organisation they give permission for us to speak to and brief details of the issue. For further details and examples of information which can be disclosed without explicit consent, click here.

If the issue remains unresolved after taking the steps above, then the third party can escalate with either the Partnership Manager or Work Coach Team Leader at the local jobcentre. Partnership Managers will deal with general queries or questions only. Work Coach Team Leaders will deal with claimant specific issues. This escalation route must only be used for urgent issues which are unable to be resolved via the Service Centre. Your local Partnership Managers is sharing contact details for the escalation route. If you have not heard from them then please do get in touch with your local jobcentre or Partnership Manager.

Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA): Applying for a managed payment to landlord

Updates to the UC47 Forms
The UC47 forms have been updated to include a box to add the landlord email address and a contactable phone number if further information is required. The new forms have been published on Gov.uk. Please ensure that you provide this information when requesting an APA.

Completing the right UC47 form
If you’re a private landlord or a social landlord that doesn’t have a secure email address and you are applying for a Managed Payment to Landlord (MPTL) due to two months’ rent arrears you will need to complete the non-secure UC47.

If you are applying for a MPTL due to another tier one or tier two factor only, you will need to complete the secure version of the UC47 form and explain your reasons in the additional information box.

The secure version of the UC47 form can be found by selecting 'yes' to the question on Gov.uk 'Does your email address contain any of the following?' This question will appear once you have put in your tenant’s postcode.

More information

New online process for requesting an APA that will replace the UC47
DWP are developing a more streamlined process for private landlords and social landlords not currently available the Landlord Portal, to request a managed payment to landlord APA via gov.uk. This is an online process, enabling the secure capture of information and doing away with the need for the different versions of the UC47 forms, via a secure / non-secure e mail and / or postal route. User testing is taking place with landlords to feedback on the design. 

UC Live Service to Full Service Transfers

Claimants will be unable to claim Universal Credit in live service areas after 31 December 2018. If claimants are already getting Universal Credit in a live service area they will manage their claim by phone.

Live service claims will eventually move to the full service. Universal Credit live service claimants will be notified when this will happen and what they need to do at that time.

In order to successfully transfer claimants to the Full Service, claimants must redeclare their housing costs. For claimants in Social Rented Sector properties the landlord will need to re verify their housing costs for payment to continue.

Partnership Managers will support landlords in preparing for this transfer and will be able to provide the dates for when this transfer will take place.