DWP will rule on Universal Credit direct payment exceptions
The Local support services framework for the upcoming welfare reform states that it will be up to the Department for Work and Pensions to make exceptions to normal payment rules; e.g. paying the housing element of Universal Credit of landlords.
In most cases Universal Credit will be paid to the claimant, on a monthly basis. For many this will be a change to existing welfare payments, as benefits are usually paid more frequently, and housing benefit often goes direct to the landlord.
Claimant categories that could qualify for extra support :
• Mental health issues
• Learning difficulties
• Drug or alcohol addiction
• English language limitations
• Literacy difficulties
• Prisoners & Detainees
• 16 and 17 year olds
• Non EEA – including refugees
• Physical disabilities
• Working abroad
• Domestic violence victims
• Sensory disabilities
• Severely indebted
• Over 18 care leavers
• Gambling addiction
• MAPPA claimants
• Numeracy difficulties
• Supported by the Troubled Families programme
• Rural isolation
The framework published today also lists the types of support that might be appropriate, and outlines local structures for the delivery of these services.
The department will be responsible for managing and administering where payments should be made direct to landlords, splitting payments between two adult members of a household, and increasing the frequency of universal credit payments.
Local delivery partners will be able to identify cases where alternative payment mechanisms may be needed, refer claimants to the department, and mediate ‘between landlords and claimants to help a claimant retain a tenancy’.
Welfare reform minister Lord Freud said: ‘Universal credit will prepare people for the world of work by getting them to access the benefit online and budget their money in the same way people in work budget. But we know some people will need extra support to manage this, and we’re committed to ensuring that no one falls through the cracks.
‘We are working with local authorities and local services to determine who will need this extra help – be it money advice services, face to face support or help to get online – and how best to deliver it.’
Since the first announcement regarding the introduction of welfare reform via Universal Credit, in October 2010, Landlord Referencing Services has been extremely sceptical and worried about the ramifications for not only landlords and tenants but also the country’s economy; if claimant tenants have no choice of direct rent payment to their property provider, as well as leaving many claimants worse off due to the separate means testing of council tax benefits.
At Landlord Referencing we believe tenants should have the right to decide if their rents are paid directly to their landlord – to help those on low incomes avoid debt and arrears.
Many other private landlords and housing associations have also raised their concerns about the abolishment of direct payment of housing benefit to landlords, with many predicting an increase in rent arrears that could damage their ability to borrow from lenders at favourable rates.
As a landlord, letting agent OR tenant if you agree that tenants should have the right to decide if their rents are paid directly to their landlord then please SIGN THIS PETITION and share it with your colleagues, peers and anyone else that might be interested.
On the other hand, if you support the abolishment of direct payments of rent to landlords LRS would love you to share your views with the rest of the community as to why this is.