Assisting your tenant with a Universal Credit claim

Introduction

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, more tenants than ever before find themselves needing to apply for Universal Credit. By July 2020, 4.2 million people had made a claim for Universal Credit, increasing by 1.7 million since February 2020. Given the increase, many of these tenants will have had no previous experience of applying for income support.

Due to this more landlords than ever before will be discussing how to navigate the Universal Credit system with their tenants. As a landlord you are well placed to assist your tenant in making their claim, ensuring that they receive financial support in a timely fashion and preventing debt from accumulating.

The purpose of this guide is to outline how you can help with these claims. It covers signposting on starting a claim, what sort of evidence the tenant will require, how it affects tenants who transition from other legacy benefits, as well as answering some other common questions about Universal Credit.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a relatively new form of income support that replaces the following legacy benefits as one lump sum payment that the tenant will normally manage themselves:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

Paid monthly in arrears, Universal Credit is means-tested but unlike previous forms of income support, there is no maximum number of hours a claimant may work for.

Instead, Universal Credit has a 'work allowance' amount. Above this, the amount that a tenant may be able to claim for tapers off as their income increases. Not all tenants are entitled to this work allowance, but many will be so a large proportion of UC claimants are in work. 

What income support does Universal Credit not replace?

Universal Credit only replaces the six legacy benefits above so a large number of other forms of income support continue to operate independent of Universal Credit. These include:

  • Contributory based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Contributory based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)/Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Statutory Sick/Maternity Pay
  • Industrial Injuries Benefit/Pension

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