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A quick update on Universal Credit in Sandwell: Support for tenants.

Black Country Click Start

The conversion process from Housing Benefit and the other old style benefits to Universal Credit is moving along very quickly.

Having a UC claim though, depends on being able to make an application online and then having full internet access to allow you to manage your claim.

We know there’s still a number of benefit claimants who would simply don’t use the internet and would struggle. They must address this if they are going to cope with the new benefit system. Or sooner or later, they could run into some serious difficulties as eventually the bulk of our caseload will be converted to UC.

And that’s quite apart from being excluded from just about everything else in the modern world.

Help is available locally to get people them online and confidant with internet basics through a free service called Black Country Click Start . It will teach some very necessary practical skills (meaning your tenant can sort out their benefit claim and then pay you your rent) – but it will also wraps these skills up into a more general package with things to make the program more attractive and less of a chore.

Despite being from a generation brought up pre-internet (I’m 52 this month) I can’t imagine living without it and often just take it for granted that everyone is comfortable doing the same things as me online But that’s very definitely wrong of me – I shouldn’t. There are all kinds of reasons why someone might not be and here’s a good chance to encourage them to find some help and support.

Please see the leaflet on the link above for the full details.




You are invited to the West Midlands Property Event of the year

Landords and Lettings Conference 2017

Bookings now open for the FREE West Midlands Landlords and Lettings Conference 2017.

Date/Time: Friday 6th October 2017 (9.00 am to 4.30 pm).
Venue: Bescot Stadium, Bescot Crescent, Walsall WS1 4SA.

This full day event is FREE TO ATTEND with free parking, free beverages and a free buffet lunch but you must reserve your place. Please click here to book and to find a full agenda. , Last year’s event was full within 3 weeks of bookings being opened with 651 people attending, so do it quickly to avoid disappointment.
Thanks to our sponsors whose support means we can offer you your place at no charge.

Do you need a tenant?

This is an urgent request for help. The Fire service have just ordered the closure of a block of flats in Sandwell. We urgently need help in finding accommodation for the displaced tenants – all types of accommodation are needed – for single people, couples and families.

One point to note is that all tenants are working – so this might be the perfect opportunity for you to find a tenant to fill your empty property.

So if you need a tenant – please contact Liz Mooney on 0121 569 5256 or


Getting it right, or losing money

You might have seen our latest newsletter which was posted on the blog last week.

If you didn’t, I think it’s worth a read (though I did write it myself!) It had one article in particular about Universal Credit (UC) that I want to pick up on as it deals with how some tenants lose benefit for completely avoidable reasons.

If you need to claim (UC), with its Housing Element to cover your rent – you apply on the DWP’s online form. I’ve had a go myself, it’s straightforward enough. But do be aware of the following.

The form asks “Do you pay rent or eligible service charges to live in your home,” (see screen-shot below).

This seems a simple question, but we know some tenants are getting it wrong. We believe it’s where they have previously had their rent paid through Housing Benefit and think the question is asking whether they physically make rent payments themselves.

So they answer “no.”

But the question is actually about whether or not you have a liability to pay rent – not the practical arrangements of where the payments come from. If you answer this question incorrectly, there can be real consequences.

You won’t be asked any further questions about your housing and although you might still be awarded the personal elements of UC you will not be assessed for or awarded the Housing Cost Elements.

To put it simply – you won’t get any rent money. So it’s essential that people get this question right.

They must also make sure that they provide proof of rent (normally their tenancy agreement) if the DWP ask for it; or again they could lose rent money.
UC claimants should also be encouraged to make sure that they contact us (the council) to claim Council Tax Reduction (CTR).

Many UC claimants will still be used to old system where their claim for CTR was wrapped up with their Housing Benefit and they didn’t need to make a specific application for it.

They do now though. CTR is not included in the UC claim and if you want help with your Council Tax bill, you have to apply to us.

If you are a landlord reading this – you might think that this last point is none of your concern.

It’s the tenant’s responsibility, not yours to sort out their own Council Tax. But if you do have a tenant who is struggling financially, the more help they get, the less likely they are to go into rent arrears.

If you have tenants on UC or a general interest in the subject – there is plenty of information about it on but we will be posting more on UC, especially around contact arrangements for landlords and rent arrears shortly.