Universal Credit housing payments are changing - here’s when and why

Monday, 13th July 2020, 3:29 pm
Updated Monday, 13th July 2020, 3:29 pm
Universal Credit can include a payment specifically designated for certain housing costs, which can help with rent payments to a private landlord, housing association or interest payments on a mortgage (Photo: Shutterstock)
Universal Credit can include a payment specifically designated for certain housing costs, which can help with rent payments to a private landlord, housing association or interest payments on a mortgage (Photo: Shutterstock)

Universal Credit can include a payment specifically designated for certain housing costs, which can help with rent payments to a private landlord, housing association or interest payments on a mortgage.

However, the rules for this are set to change in August 2020.

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Why are housing payments changing?

Universal Credit claimants will, in some cases, be able to agree to have their housing costs paid directly to their landlords instead of to them personally. This is done under the ‘alternative payment arrangement’ system.

However, as the housing payments are paid on a four-weekly basis and the remaining Universal Credit payments are paid monthly, some people have said that this difference in payment dates can lead to difficulties for both parties.

Changes coming in August

In order to solve this problem, Neil Couling, the Universal Credit Director General, recently announced that payment changes would be coming in August.

Mr Couling wrote to colleagues on 9 July in order to give them an update on Universal Credit housing costs, stating, “When I last wrote to you in late December, I set out our plans to start a small scale test with a group of Social Landlords to align the way that we pay Managed Payments to Landlords (MPtL) with a claimant’s Assessment Period.

“We will begin rolling this feature out to all Portal landlords, commencing next month.”

This means that landlords will receive the housing cost element at the same time as their tenant receives their Universal Credit payment. They will also be able to access payment information via the Landlord Portal, where a managed payment is in place.

Mr Couling added, “This should greatly improve your ability to manage payments and reconcile UC housing costs, helping you to support your tenants during this period.”

The letter also explained that the roll-out approach is currently being finalised, and that those it applies to will be contacted two weeks before their go-live date. They will also then be issued with detailed guidance to help them use the new feature and obtain support, if needed.

How to apply for housing payments

In order to apply for housing payments, you can make a claim through your online Universal Credit account.

Housing support can be received even if the claimant does not have a permanent address, as the claimant can use the address of:

  • A hostel where they are staying
  • A family member or friend

You can use your local Jobcentre Plus address if you do not have any other address you can use.