Category Archives: Universal Credit

A change of gear for Universal Credit

cogs

If you have seen our earlier blogs – we have been quite clear that Universal Credit was being rolled out in full from November 2018 across Sandwell. This is what we (the council) have been told ourselves.

 
However recent government announcements have changed the situation and it looks as if the mass conversion of existing benefit cases has been delayed. Instead – the government will be piloting a trial conversion of only ten thousand benefit cases – rather than several million.

 
This means that most people who currently receive Housing Benefit will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. So – things seem to have been slowed down substantially. However – people who make brand new claims or who move from one local authority area to another are likely to go onto Universal Credit.

 
It’s certainly not the best when we can’t give you very clear advice or have to change something we have already told you – and this has certainly happened before with Universal Credit – so apologies. We try though to let you know, whatever we know. We will post more information as and when we get it.

 
Oliver

Universal Credit . . . It’s here.

UC or HB

As from Wednesday 14th November 2018 – if you are making a new claim for help with your housing costs in Sandwell, you can no longer claim Housing Benefit. You need to apply for Universal Credit and its housing cost element, unless you are in one of these categories:

 
• You have three or more dependent children
• You are of pension age or above
• You live in special exempt or temporary accommodation (as defined by the local authority)

 
If you are in one of these categories only, you can apply for Housing Benefit via our online form here.

 
Everyone else should apply on the online Universal Credit form here.

 
We will keep blogging more information about Universal Credit and how it will affect us here in Sandwell.

 
Oliver

A double post . . . If your tenant is on Universal Credit – read this now & Last call for landlord forum on Friday

Attention

If you already have a tenant who gets Universal Credit (UC), here’s something you need to know. .

 
It’s fiddly but important, so please bear with me.

 
The DWP stopped taking new claims for UC for most people in Sandwell several months ago – meaning that people who need help with their rent –still have to claim Housing Benefit. However – in November, the DWP will be introducing what’s called ‘Full Service’ UC to Sandwell and all applicants will need to claim UC with new claims for HB no longer being accepted (although there will be some minor exceptions)..

 
There are though, quite a large block of people in Sandwell who due to being in various special categories are actually on UC already. Their claims are dealt with under something called ‘Live Service’ UC which is a different administrative set-up from Full Service. Come this November – anyone on Live Service will have their UC cancelled and they will need to reapply for ‘Full Service’ UC..

 
Affected tenants will be notified by the DWP of any action they need to take and they will normally be invited to attend an interview at the Job Centre.

 
It is essential that they comply with any request that the DWP or Job Centre make. They must answer any letter or communication they receive and if asked to go to an interview –they must turn up. Failure to do so can mean that their UC claim will be cancelled.

 
We know from neighbouring authorities who are further along in this process than Sandwell, that unfortunately, a number of UC claimants (for whatever reason) are not doing what they need to do. This means that their UC is being cancelled, including the money to pay their rent.

 
So to put all of the above as simply as possible – make sure your tenant understands that if they get any communication from the DWP – THEY MUST DEAL WITH IT – or they can lose their benefit and their rent money.

 
If they get something they are not sure about – don’t leave it. Ring the phone number on the letter or just make sure they speak to someone.

 
And this neatly links to my next subject. If you have got any queries about UC and rent money and what UC means for landlords, – come to our landlord forum tomorrow where we will have experts form the DWP to answer your questions. (And of course we will be looking at a range of other landlord issues). If you didn’t see our last blog – we have had a last minute change of venue – the forum will be:

 
2.00 pm to 4.30 pm
Smethwick Mencap Club
Price Street
Smethwick B66 3QR

 
Its FREE admission, FREE parking and best of all, FREE biscuits.

 
Hope to see you there.

 

 

Oliver

 

 

 

Universal Credit: get your tenants on YouTube

Univisal Credit - You Tube

As you hopefully know by now – full service Universal Credit (UC) comes to Sandwell in November.

 
If you have tenants who are currently receiving Housing Benefit (HB) – most wont notice the change straight away – but people making new claims or who have significant changes in their circumstances will often need to apply for UC rather than HB. This may well be the case if you have someone signing up for a new tenancy with you from November onwards.

 
There is so much information out there about UC that it’s easy to get a bit lost or to know which are the important details that will affect you and your tenants or clients. We will be linking to different things we think are important over the next few weeks – but for now – I thought these YouTube clips that the DWP has put out are very useful. https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/making-a-claim/how-to-claim/

 

There are clips on:
• Making a claim
• Setting up an online Universal credit Account
• Verifying your Identity
• Getting an advance payment.

 
They are short and clear and worth watching.

 
If you do have a tenant likely to be affected, – you might want to have a conversation with them about what they need to do. Obviously, we have to respect people’s choices around their own privacy – they might simply not want to discuss the matter with you which could have all kinds of implications. But it is important that they know things are changing fast.

 
I’ll just say one thing about advance payments. These are now generally quick and easy to get. If you do encourage a tenant or client to apply for one though – make sure they understand that they have to think about their rent costs when they receive an advance payment. If they do get a lump sum paid into their bank account – they need to think very carefully about how long that money will need to last and how much of it is needed to cover their housing costs.

 
I know I’ve plugged it twice already on the blog (and will probably do so again) but our landlord forum next week – 2.00 pm 28th September at Sandwell Council House, Oldbury will include representatives from the DWP who can answer landlord concerns about UC – so if you are interested in this subject, do please try to come along. If you can’t – get YouTubing.

 
Oliver.