Temporary solution for social landlords concerned about universal credit
A temporary solution for social landlords who are facing delays and confusion over how to handle rent increases under universal credit has been set up by government officials.
DWP officials have notified social landlords to a solution for increasing benefit costs in line with rent increases under the new welfare reforms; however it will only apply for a year. Landlords feared that they’d be left facing benefit payment delays and increased rent arrears, reports Inside Housing.
Currently social landlords have to inform the local council of any rent increases who will then increase the tenant’s housing benefit. However under universal credit the department is reliant on every single universal credit claimant to notify the DWP when their rent rises.
A letter sent to social landlords last week from the DWP, provided a spreadsheet for housing associations to record rent increases for their properties for this April, allowing the department to identify claimants facing rent rises en masse, and lift their benefit rates accordingly.
Sue Ramsden, policy leader at the National Housing Federation (NHF), said: “If [a tenant] doesn’t report [rent rises], they won’t receive their full entitlement. There’s no digital system in place so that people can report it online. People have to put letters in the post or make phone calls, which is why the DWP agreed that they would set up this one-off process for April and look longer term at how the information might be transferred across.”
Mark Walker, head of income at Amicus Horizon, said: “I think there were concerns that the DWP would have to notify on each individual rent increase. The changes in recent days seem like they will streamline [the process].”
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