Thursday, 05 March 2015

DWP to rule on direct payment exceptions

The Department for Work and Pensions will decide in which cases payment of the housing element of universal credit should go direct to the landlord.

The Local support services framework for the government’s flagship welfare reform, published today, states it will be up to the department to make exceptions to normal payment rules such as paying the housing element of the credit to landlords.

In most cases universal credit will be paid to the claimant, on a monthly basis. For many this will be a change to existing welfare payments, as benefits are usually paid more frequently, and housing benefit often goes direct to the landlord.

Housing associations and private landlords have raised concerns about the changes, with many predicting an increase in rent arrears that could damage their ability to borrow from lenders at favourable rates.

The framework published today lists the groups who might qualify for additional support with universal credit, the types of support that might be appropriate, and outlines local structures for the delivery of these services.

The department will be responsible for managing and administering where payments should be made direct to landlords, splitting payments between two adult members of a household, and increasing the frequency of universal credit payments.

Local delivery partners will be able to identify cases where alternative payment mechanisms may be needed, refer claimants to the department, and mediate ‘between landlords and claimants to help a claimant retain a tenancy’.

Groups that could qualify for extra support include homeless people, those with mental health issues, domestic violence victims, and households supported by the troubled families programme. They will be offered help with budgeting and using the online universal credit system, as well as a range of other support, with the aim of eventually moving them off the advice programme.

Welfare reform minister Lord Freud said: ‘Universal credit will prepare people for the world of work by getting them to access the benefit online and budget their money in the same way people in work budget. But we know some people will need extra support to manage this, and we’re committed to ensuring that no one falls through the cracks.

‘We are working with local authorities and local services to determine who will need this extra help – be it money advice services, face-to-face support or help to get online – and how best to deliver it.’

Readers' comments (19)

  • Jimmy Cricket

    Can you imagine living in a house where they have split payments between 2 adults? Oh the fun they must be having making up these rules!!!

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  • Colin Mcculloch

    Can you imagine living in a house where all the money goes to one person and they spend the money for the rent on other things?

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  • Sadly unless one works for a living money can be seen as easy come - easy go...

    It's clearly a disaster if rent goes to tenant

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  • People who suffer from mental health are going through it.As ian dwp smith plays with peoples lives.Any kind of change is particularly hard on people with anxiety ,depression .Benefit cuts are causing misery across the country and suicides are rising .The uncertainty of the future for vulnerable by this government is cruel and will one day come back and bite.

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  • Claimants will immediately incur debts,when their benefits are paid a month in arrears.Crisis loans are only paid for food,fuel,etc'.Then the loan has to be paid back at around £9 per week,on top of any rent and council tax arrears,not to mention the bedroom tax.Talk about the poverty trap!!

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  • Those who believe this will work are buffoons of the highest order.....

    Please help stop this madness by copying, pasting, signing and distributing the e-petition link below.

    Universal housing benefits to be paid to landlords (LHA element)

    Responsible department: Department for Work and Pensions

    Under new rules to be introduced next year, any housing benefit allowance will be paid direct to tenants, even if they are in arrears & not the landlord. This will not only subject the landlord to financial pressure and possible repossession, but also increase the likelihood of landlords refusing to take housing benefit tenants, which will increase pressure on local councils and housing associations who will also not be able to request direct payments to them. The government needs to take on board our views, that tenants who receive housing benefit directly and NOT pay their rents are not financially responsible and therefore should it should be allowed that rents can be paid direct to their respective landlord when they are in arrears as per the current rules, failure to take on this common sense approach will cause more issues for the government – this is common sense and a logical solution to all concerned, both tenant and landlords - pay rent direct to landlords

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  • It's nice to know that those of us working in support services are appreciated for the work we do with vulnerable people. No matter how much information is posted through doors or put on line it won’t get through the people on the margins of society. These people are no doubt the ones who will be facing homelessness and mental health deterioration without support from local agencies.

    It’s just a shame that all the services will be going as the Supporting People funding is cut in council budgets in April.

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  • This is a totally confused and idiotic policy, it gives no support to housing benefit clients, no support to those private landlords that are trying to help clients on housing benefit. The only result will be a fast decline in private landlords offering social benefit clients housing and they will be able to relet in a growing market for rental properties from the private sector, plus an increase of homeless people on the street.

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  • A famous man said to a gangster - you run this town cos the people believe you run this - they stop believing it and you stop running it...............

    Direct payments will lead to financial problems with HA's - GOOD !!

    The system will grind to a halt with homelessness - GOOD !!

    We've all sat back and watched this car-crash and we all knew what would happen.

    We have all colluded with this disaster because we have no b*lls.

    The fire authority are going to court rather than be lemmings to the cuts agenda.

    Big brass b*lls are needed at this time.

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  • Alpha One

    Personally, I believe benefits should be paid into a special account with an access card that allows only the purchase of certain goods in supermarkets and shops, i.e. no booze or fags.

    This account should have a DD setup for your rent automatically, so you can't spend it as well.

    In addition to that, for those that need, there should be support on accessing and setting up other direct debits for other bills and budgetting your money for the month.

    Those that show good budgetting skills will be allowed to spend a portion of their money on booze or fags provided it doesn't leave them without money at the end of the month.

    Sounds like rations, sounds an awful lot like treating people like children, but for a lot of people it is what is needed, to get them to understand how the real world works. That you can't spend your rent money on a plasma screen TV, or your heating money on Tenants Super.

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