THE way Universal Credit is calculated could be getting an overhaul to stop thousands of tenants who pay rent weekly from missing out on cash.
In a newsletter to landlords, the Department for Work and Pensions admitted that there’s an issue with the system that means some tenants are being left out of pocket.
Getty – Contributor Thousands of tenants are left out of pocket because of the way the DWP calculates housing benefit
Now, it is considering look at ways to stop this from happening.
The problem occurs because Universal Credit – which rolls six payments into one, including Housing Benefit – is paid monthly which can be an issue for the thousands of tenants who pay their rent weekly.
The DWP works out how much you’re entitled to by multiplying your rent by 52 – the number of weeks in a year – and dividing it between 12 months.
But it means that claimants will be missing out on a day’s rent, or two in a leap year, causing them to fall into arrears.
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal CreditIF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it’s a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit pay out.
Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you’re falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you’re part of a couple.
Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the government to help with emergency household costs of up to £348 if you’re single, £464 if you’re part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You’ll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You’ll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your payments aren’t enough to cover your rent.
Foodbanks – If you’re really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
In the newsletter, the Department said that it “recognised that there is a separate issue” with the way it works it out how much claimants can get.
It said: “We are currently considering whether this formulation around weekly rents, and potentially other weekly amounts in the UC calculation, should be amended.”
The system has been riddled with issues since its launch in 2013, which is why The Sun is campaigning to Make Universal Credit Work.
The Department also addressed a problem highlighted by campaigners that tenants could be missing out on a whole week’s rent this year due to an admin error.
Renters who pay their landlords at the start of every week are set to miss out because Universal Credit payments are worked out based on 52 weeks in the year – but this year there will be 53 Mondays.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit WorkUNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:
Get paid faster: The government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email UniversalCredit@the-sun.co.uk to share your story.
The DWP disagreed and said this wasn’t true. This is because tenants who pay their bills weekly will need to make the payments either four or five times a month.
It means that some months they’re overpaid which, the DWP argues, can be used to settle bills in months when they’re left short.
But critics say this unpredictability makes it harder for vulnerable claimants to budget.
A spokesperson for the DWP told The Sun: “While our policy has not changed, we continue to listen to feedback about Universal Credit and work with claimants and landlords to review how the system is working.”
Two in three tenants on Universal Credit are unable to pay their rent, according to a group of landlords, with the number of tenants going into rent arrears rising from 27 per cent last year to 61 per cent this year.
UNIVERSAL HELL I’m so broke on Universal Credit I feed my daughter leftover party food ExclusiveWHERE CREDIT’S DUE 4m set for £3k Universal Credit boost – but others plunged into poverty BAD CREDIT Corrie’s Bruce Jones slams ‘ridiculous’ 5-week wait for Universal Credit cash CREDIT CRISIS Universal Credit 5-week wait ‘sets Brits up to fail & loads them with debt’ OUT OF CREDIT I quit my job to care for dying mum but Universal Credit wait ruined my life UNIVERSAL CRISIS Rudd admits 5-week wait for Universal Credit HAS pushed Brits to foodbanks
Claimants who are struggling to make their payments stretch are able to get extra help by applying to the Flexible Support Fund – and you won’t have to pay it back.
You can also apply for an advance loan or budgeting loan to help with any emergency bills while you wait for your first payment.
As the Government continues to roll out the scheme to new and existing benefit claimants, it’s expected that 3.2million people will be worse off.
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