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Universal Credit – “Full Service” is coming your way very soon – Make sure you’re prepared?
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), despite ever mounting criticism is pressing ahead, during 2018 with the rollout of the digital or Full-Service version of Universal Credit. By the end of this year every area in the UK will be delivering “Full Service.”
So, what’s different?
The “Full Service” completely removes the “gateway” conditions which have so far, operated to restrict claims to mainly single unemployed claimants. Removing these barriers to entry, will increase, quite dramatically, the number and type of claimant households, including families, people with disabilities etc., who can claim. Full Service also operates under different rules, with claims being made, in 90% of cases, online, whereas current claims are mainly processed by DWP staff, operating in Jobcentres.
Dealing with a remote and ambivalent DWP administration has been challenging to say the least. The new administration process places an emphasis on tenants making their claim online; providing supporting documentation in an electronic format; being forced to make a “claimant commitment” before payment commences and cope with the effect of sanctions when they’re applied. There is NO facility to apply for help with the housing element on a “NIL income” basis as there is with HB/LHA. All changes in circumstances must be notified online and failure to do so immediately can attract penalties, where overpayments occur. Something called the “whole month rule” can produce unexpected rental losses which will affect the tenant’s ability to meet their contractual liability.
Private Landlords already experiencing Full Service delivery complain of DWP being unwilling to engage with them, despite possession of tenant mandates. Chasing Alternative Payment Arrangement applications has proved very difficult due to DWP insistence of the tenant confirming their “explicit consent” in their online “journal”. Your tenants can expect little or no support from DWP and local advice agencies, already swamped with benefit type complaints & appeals, have little capacity to expand their services to meet demand. Because of these various factors, many landlords are experiencing a doubling in rent arrears exposure, with, in some cases, involving £10-16K per case, would you believe?
How does the new scheme differ from LHA? The answer is, in more ways than you could ever have anticipated, so it’s vitally important you familiarise yourself with all its component parts and complexities. If you do, you’re much less likely to experience the rental losses already mentioned above!
This Universal Credit course has been specifically tailored for PRS landlords & agents. It is designed to highlight key areas of the new scheme and how it compares with LHA. This will include:
- how the new benefit will be assessed, and paid
- how changes will affect the award and payments
- the likely effect this will have on your tenant’s
- your own collection arrangements, rental income and rent arrears control
After completing this course you should be able to:
- properly advise your tenants on how and when to claim
- assist your tenant avoid situations where they lose out financially due to unfamiliarity with the new scheme
- ensure protocol is in place to avoid impact on ability to pay rent
- any landlord and/or agent who accommodate tenants, reliant to some extent on claiming assistance from LHA/Universal Credit schemes to help them reduce or extinguish their rent liabilities.
- landlords and/or agents who have not previously accepted tenants in receipt of benefit payments
- new landlords and or agents considering accepting tenants in receipt of benefit payments
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