Universal Credit is a living support payment which is currently offered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It provides those who are out of work, or on a low income, with the additional financial support they need for their day-to-day lives. The benefit is offered monthly to those who fall under the DWP’s eligibility criteria.
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But it is worth noting there are several extra assistance measures designed to provide help with housing costs which Universal Credit claimants could take up.
Housing costs and payments often take up a significant amount of income for many Britons.
And with the financial effects of COVID-19 continuing to wreak havoc, many would appreciate the extra support.
A measure which has hit the headlines recently is an Alternative Payment Arrangement.
Under this scheme, if a claimant is facing particular hardship or has found themselves behind on rent, they can gain extra help.
This is done through particular arrangements with a landlord, which include:
- Getting the rent paid directly to the landlord
- Allowing the claim to be paid more frequently than once a month
- Splitting the payments if a claimant is part of a couple
APA has been forced to adapt in recent months due to the lockdown measures imposed across the UK.
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The new online system has garnered praise for allowing the housing section of Universal Credit to be rerouted to the landlord without a paper trail.
But Work and Pensions secretary Therese Coffey appeared to recently allude to the fact she did not wish to see this arrangement become standard after lockdown measures draw to a close.
Other claimants may be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).
This arrangement is available to people claiming Universal Credit with costs towards rental liability, as well as Housing Benefit.
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Although this cannot be received to provide assistance with a Council Tax bill, it is likely it will provide a helping hand to claimants.
DHP can cover housing costs including a rent shortfall, rent deposits, or rent in advance when moving home.
In order to receive it, claimants will need to approach their local council, as each one has different rules and regulations.
Britons are encouraged to visit their local council’s website for further information specific to their circumstances.
Claimants may also be able to apply for other financial support which is specific to their housing cost needs.
A Budgeting Advance works in a similar way to a Universal Credit advance, providing claimants with the money they need, and then requiring them to pay it back over a set amount of time.
This Budgeting Advance can help to cover emergency expenses, such as replacing a broken cooker or washing machine, or funeral costs.
To be eligible, claimants must have received their Universal Credit for six months or more, and have earned less than £2,600, or £3,600 for couples, over that time.
Other support measures include BT Basic for those with no income, which provides low monthly line rental, free weekend calls and potentially broadband.
WaterSure allows Universal Credit claimants to cap their bills if they have a water meter, with a Cold Weather Payment also providing assistance during periods of freezing weather.
Finally, claimants may be able to apply for a Council Tax Reduction to support them – sometimes known as Council Tax Support, claimants could receive a discount on their total bill if they are eligible.
Once again, this is dependent on local council rules, so Britons are encouraged to use the government’s online portal to enter their postcode and see what regulations apply to them.
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