Universal credit to provide extra two weeks of rental support
Renters who get housing benefit are set to receive an extra two weeks' support when they move on to universal credit, the government announced this week.
The measure came into effect yesterday (April 11th), and will specifically apply to those who are presently claiming housing benefit and are about to make their first universal credit claims.
It is a measure designed to ease the transition from the old system to the new one and ensure that nobody is left out of pocket. Many MPs, charities and pressure groups had expressed concern that some benefit claimants could be left without any income for several weeks when the new system kicked in.
The figure is non-recoverable and will provide the average claimant with an extra £233. It is expected to help 2.3 million people as they move on to universal credit. Since some of these will be in private rented accomodation, this will also be good news for landlords who can be reassured about cash flow issues. Some may want to make sure their tenants in receipt of benefits are fully aware of the help available to them.
Commenting on the measure, secretary of state for work and pensions Esther McVey said the universal credit system is designed to replace the plethora of different benefits used up until now with "simpler and provide better personalised employment support".
“However," she added, "we understand that moving on to universal credit can be a big change for those used to the previous benefits system - especially the monthly payment, designed to reflect the world of work.
"So this week, extra rent support is being made available to allow people to adjust from fortnightly housing benefit payments to monthly universal credit ones."
The change is the latest tweak to the system that will please landlords. In February, the seven-day waiting period was abolished, which put an end to the prospect of claimants waiting six weeks for their first payments.
Organisations like the Residential Landlords' Association campaigned for the seven-day wait to be axed and the organisation has noted that the impact of universal credit will be one of the topics covered at the Renting North Conference, which takes place in Manchester later this month.