This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Universal Credit

Entitlement and calculation of housing element universal credit

Rental payments to be calculated monthly

Currently, housing benefit is calculated and paid 4 weekly. A significant change of universal credit is that for tenants, payments will be made calendar monthly and as such, the housing element will be calculated monthly.

Where the rental period on the tenancy is not monthly, an amount is to be calculated as the monthly equivalent, so for example [1]

  • weekly payments are multiplied by 52 and divided by 12;
  • four-weekly payments are multiplied by 13 and divided by 12;
  • three-monthly payments are multiplied by 4 and divided by 12; and
  • annual payments are divided by 12.

Rent free period

Where a renter has an arrangement that provides for one or more rent free periods, the monthly equivalent is to be calculated over 12 months by reference to the total number of payments which the renter is liable to make in that 12 month period. [2] For example, if a property is £500pcm but the first 2 months are to be free of charge (meaning 10 payments will be due in the next 12 months), the rent is calculated as follows:

£500 x 10 (number of months worth of payments) = £5000

£5000 divided by 12 (the equivalent 12 month period) =£416.66

In this example, the rental amount for universal credit purposes would be deemed to be £416.66 per calendar month.

Room allocation and size criteria

Just as currently with local housing allowance, a tenant on universal credit is entitled to a specified number of bedrooms depending on the make up of the “benefit unit”.

A renter is entitled to one bedroom for each of the following categories of persons [3]

  • the renter (or joint renters);
  • a qualifying young person for whom the renter or either joint renter is responsible;
  • a non-dependant who is not a child;
  • two children who are under 10 years old;
  • two children of the same sex;
  • any other child.

Temporary absence (which is extensively defined) is ignored when calculating the number of bedrooms [4] and additional rooms are allowed for persons who require overnight care. [5]

As currently, the number of bedrooms allowable is capped at four bedrooms. [6]Also as currently, a single person under 35 is only entitled to the shared room rate. [7]

Calculating the amount

Just as currently, the amount of the housing element of universal credit will be the lower of the broad market rental area amount for the number of bedrooms the claimant is entitled to or the actual rent.

So for example, if the rent for a 1 bedroom flat is £500 pcm and the maximum allowable rent in the area for a one bedroom property is £550 pcm, the universal credit housing element will be the lower of the two so £500 in this example.

When a person is responsible for a child or qualifying young person

A person is responsible for a child (or qualifying young person) who normally lives with them but where a child or qualifying young person normally lives with two or more persons who are not a couple, only one of them is to be treated as responsible and that is the person who has the main responsibility. [8]

Where there is more than one person responsible, those persons may jointly nominate which of them has the main responsibility but the DWP may decide who is responsible if the persons cannot agree or the DWP don’t think who they nominated truly reflects the arrangements between those persons.

Capital limit

A single person or couple will not be entitled to universal credit if they have capital worth £16,000 [9] or more and a person’s capital is to be treated as yielding a monthly income of £4.35 for each £250 in excess of £6,000. [10]

  1. Paragraph 7, Schedule 4, The Universal Credit Regulations 2013  ↩
  2. Paragraph 7(3), Schedule 4, The Universal Credit Regulations 2013  ↩
  3. Paragraph 10(1), Schedule 4, The Universal Credit Regulations 2013  ↩
  4. Paragraph 11, Schedule 4, The Universal Credit Regulations 2013  ↩
  5. Paragraph 12, Schedule 4, The Universal Credit Regulations 2013  ↩
  6. Paragraph 26, Schedule 4, The Universal Credit Regulations 2013  ↩
  7. Paragraph 27, Schedule 4, The Universal Credit Regulations 2013  ↩
  8. Regulation 4, The Universal Credit Regulations 2013  ↩
  9. Regulation 18  ↩
  10. Regulation 72  ↩

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