Author Archives: curtisshrigley

Universal Credit roll-out – important changes.

Benefits Gazette

If you were about to tell a tenant or client to go and make a claim for Universal Credit – please read this first. Apologies as this is a little fiddly, but might be important.

First, please remember that there are currently two main categories for UC claims. ‘Full Service’ and ‘Live Service.’ Each applies in different areas – it’s a bit of a patchwork and it comes down to post-codes. So parts of one local authority will come under one category and neighbouring parts will come under the other. (It’s never simple!)

If you’re in a full service area, from January 2018 you can no longer (certain very small exceptions apply) make claims for the old style ‘legacy’ benefits like Housing Benefit or Job Seekers Allowance (IB). Instead – more or less anyone who wants to make a new benefit claim goes straight onto UC.

Where you don’t have a ‘full service,’ UC claims are assessed as ‘live service.’ There are various technical differences between the two categories and only certain types of person have been put onto ‘live service’ UC in the areas where it applies. If you are not in one of these categories – you should continue to claim the old style benefits. Most of Sandwell (not quite all) currently comes under ‘live service. ’ The long term goal is of course that all areas eventually move over to live service. However, to support a ‘smooth transition’ to full service, the DWP will stop taking live service claims. (Although any claim set up on a live service basis will continue uninterrupted).

So – if not on UC already – most Sandwell residents cannot now claim UC until we see the complete roll-out to full service. These claimants should continue to claim Housing Benefit or other legacy benefits if necessary. Which leads to the next point; that originally scheduled for July 2018 – the transition from live to full in Sandwell will now happen in November 2018. Other parts of the country will have similar delays. If you have tenants or clients in areas apart from Sandwell – you can check the UC status and expected service changes on

For more information please see the Department for Work and Pensions bulletin here




Landlord & tenant speed-dating and condensation?

Speed dating

Unfortunately – I can’t think of a clever of interesting link between these two subjects, I just wanted to do quick posts on both. Here goes …

Our friends at Brushstrokes (the excellent local charity for migrants) are having another one of their landlord / tenant events. These are a chance for landlords and people who are looking for accommodation to meet – share viewpoints and get updates on various issues around housing. Although they weren’t originally designed to specifically introduce tenants to landlords so that people found new homes – that’s how they have turned out for some people. So we like to think of it as speed-dating. If you are a landlord and come along – you might find yourself your next tenant. Megan, who is the Brushstrokes coordinator for the event tells me she already has several prospective tenants who will be at the next one. So if you are a landlord – they would love to see you come along too.

Its 5.00 pm to 7.00pm – 14th December 2017.

Brushstrokes , St Philips Parish Centre, Watt Street, Smethwick, B66 3DA

You can contact Megan for further details on 07464 497 416 or 0121 565 2234.

Next … a perennial subject for landlords – damp and condensation. This is the number one cause of tenant complaints and if not dealt with can cause serious harm both to your tenant’s health and to the condition of your property. We know though, that very often, damp and condensation can be caused by the tenant and what they do in the home. As we start getting into winter proper – this might be a good time to talk to your tenant about damp and some of the other cold and weather related issues they might face. Even good well intentioned tenants might not understand the issues if (like me) they are not practically minded. There is a leaflet on our website here about condensation you can point your tenant to and there is also a good website from the Northern Ireland Housing Authority that we have linked to before here covering cold weather and private housing.


Universal Credit FREEPHONE numbers and another plea for accommodation

Universal Credit - Contact

The DWP have now confirmed that the phone lines for Universal Credit have been converted to FREEPHONE numbers (effective from Wednesday 29th November. Not obviously an issue for landlords – but if your tenant needs to sort out their UC claim or apply for any advance payment to help them pay their rent it’s useful to know.

So here they are …

Service Line                                              Current Number            New Freephone Number
UC Live Service                                           0345 600 0723                       0800 328 9344

UC Full Service                                            0345 600 4272                       0800 328 5644

UC Housing Line                                         0345 266 0041                       0800 328 3844

UC Sanctions Line                                      0345 600 3081                       0800 328 9744

UC Live to Full Service Transfers               0345 606 9970                       0800 328 7844

UC Text Phone                                             0345 600 0743                       0800 328 1344

And we need houses again. If you have an empty property and want a tenant – we might be able to help you fill it. We need accommodation to house …

1)- A father with a 12 year old son – 2) –A mother with 2 sons aged 14 and 15 years – 3) –A mother with 4 children (2 boys and 2 girls all under 8 years –

And we ware also looking for a one-bedroom flat near Oldbury Council House. If you have any thing suitable – please contact Mandy Amos on our Housing Choices team