Minister Will Quince: How Universal Credit is improving to assist with direct payments of rent
In his first blog for the NRLA, Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince explains how Universal Credit is improving to assist with direct payments of rent.
The department has risen to the challenges and demands on the Universal Credit system throughout the pandemic. We’ve been responding to feedback from tenants and landlords alike to make improvements.
Many of you will know Universal Credit is a single, monthly payment which is paid directly into the claimant’s bank account and housing costs payments are included for those who are eligible.
Claimants are responsible for paying their rent themselves, unless they are unable to manage their finances effectively. In such circumstances a Managed Payment to Landlord may be put in place to provide tenants with that extra layer of support.
A Managed Payment to Landlord is one of three types of Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA) available to Universal Credit claimants.
Alternative Payment Arrangements are considered for those claimants who cannot or may not be able to manage their single monthly payment and as a result are at risk of financial harm. This may include those who
- have rent arrears of one month or more accrued over more than two months
- suffer from mental health conditions, have experienced domestic abuse, addiction, learning difficulties or have a history of rent arrears
- previously had their housing costs paid to their landlord as part of their housing benefit claim.
This list is not exhaustive and further information can be found on gov.uk.
Landlords can request an APA be put in place for their tenant, but they can also be requested by a claimant, appointee or caseworker at the start or at any point during the Universal Credit claim.
In addition to this, landlords can now request recovery of rent arrears from a claimant for a current tenancy once two months’ rent arrears have accrued.
The Apply for a Direct Rent Payment online tool replaces the previous email and postal arrangements and enables landlords to request Managed Payment to Landlord and deductions for rent arrears recovery. It doesn’t take long and is easy to use.
This greatly improves the chance of DWP having all the information to process the request first time, as under the old system forms were often completed by hand, leading to issues reading them and there was nothing in place to ensure all sections were completed.
To find out more about direct payments go to https://directpayment.universal-credit.service.gov.uk
For more about Universal Credit and landlords visit www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/landlords