As the rollout of Universal Credit continues throughout England and Wales, new Universal Credit guidance for landlords has been updated and published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The guidance explains various aspects to the claiming process for tenants and includes things a landlord can do to assist with a claim:
Landlords can help tenants to get ready for Universal Credit by encouraging them to:
• go online
• open a bank account to receive payments
• read the Universal Credit and you guide
Universal Credit is designed to be claimed online, if tenants don’t have access to the internet or are not confident using a computer, the jobcentre can tell them about local services that can help.
The guidance is helpful in understanding the claims process, how the monthly payments will be calculated (if the rent is not monthly) and how landlords can claim direct payment should the tenant experience difficulty.
The guidance doesn’t make mention of the normal 2 months arrears rule for direct payment. Instead, the guidance says:
If a tenant gets into difficulty paying their rent, the landlord can apply for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA) Managed Payment to Landlord (MPTL) which will be considered on a case by case basis.
It could be slightly confusing which form a private landlord should use to request direct payment because one is for people with a secure email and one for a non-secure email (private landlords will use the non-secure email form). A useful link is provided which asks a couple of questions and gets you to the right form quickly and easily. Use this link to apply for direct payment.
Overall, the guidance is a useful addition and landlords who have tenants claiming Universal Credit, will find it useful to have a read through.
I appreciate that the country is hard up but to rob claimants one whole weeks entitlement really is bordering on criminal when they change from the old system to universal credit. Furthermore when on the old system and claiming HB they would get four weeks run on when they started paid employment. This was not an overpayment but to bide them over until they were paid. Under UC they are expected to survive a minimum of five weeks with no money. They then are forced to beg borrow or steal to survive. When they finally get their UC they have to pay back all they owe and then they have no money left and the vicious cycle is repeated. Why can not the DWP continue with the originalbenefits until the claim for UC is up and running? The present system must be costing the country far more in homelessness, NHS for depression, etc. UC is also receiving so much bad publicity that people are positively discouraged to have a change in circumstance like going to work. Also as the claimants will be at least five weeks in rent arrears when they finally get their UC it would make sense to pay all landlords direct. Rent is due in advance and hence the claimants will then be nine weeks or two months in arrears. By paying the landlord direct it will save further evictions and it would be up to the tenant after the first payment to ask for a change of payee.