Rent arrears won't be deducted from Universal Credit payments during lockdown

PEOPLE receiving Universal Credit won’t have any rent arrears deducted from their payments for a month, the government has confirmed.

Normally, any money that you owe your housing provider or council would be taken straight from your benefits.

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But any so-called third party deductions that would have been made if people had not paid their rent, service charge or council tax between April 10 and May 9 have been suspended, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said.

Instead, deductions will start again on May 10.

As well as being intended to help people manage their finances during the UK lockdown, the temporary measure has been made as the DWP tries to streamline its operations.

The department has been dealing with thousands of new Universal Credit applicants in recent weeks because more people are out of work.

What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit

IF you're experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don't cover costs, here are your options:

  • Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
  • Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.
  • Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
  • Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your existing ones aren't enough to cover your rent.
  • Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.

A spokesperson for the department said: “We have received an unprecedented number of new benefit claims and have streamlined our operations to make sure people get the support they need during this time.

“As part of this, we have temporarily paused third-party deductions from [Universal Credit] – these will recommence on 10 May.

“We are in the process of explaining the changes to claimants via their online journal and to third parties, including housing providers who collect arrears via this method.”

Here's what to do if you want to apply for Universal Credit and you have been furloughed.

And here's how to complain if your benefit payment is wrong.

Also it is good to be aware that the bank holidays in May could affect your payment dates.

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