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Will my Housing Benefit claim change to Universal Credit?

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 changed the law regarding the way financial help for working age customers on a low-income, who rented their homes was calculated and paid. 

Under the new rules, help with rent for this group of people, would move from Housing Benefit (administered by the council), to Universal Credit, administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Not the Council.

Universal Credit has been replacing the following benefits on a phased basis since April 2013.  The benefits that Universal Credit replaces, are known as ‘legacy benefits’ and are listed below.

  • Housing Benefit
  • Tax Credits
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance

Since Universal Credit was introduced, increasing numbers of working aged people get help with their rent through Universal Credit, instead of Housing Benefit.  This was done by gradually reducing the number of people who could make new applications for legacy benefits.   

As people’s circumstances changed instead of claiming help through legacy benefits, they would claim Universal credit instead. Any of the other legacy benefits they may have already been getting would stop as a result.

The DWP called this process “Natural Migration” (claimants moving onto naturally as their circumstances changed).

However, the DWP have now moved to a new phase of the migration process, called “Managed migration”.  This means that the DWP have started to contact people who are still receiving certain legacy benefits and have not had a change in circumstances which would cause them to naturally migrate them to Universal Credit.

The process of moving working age Housing Benefit customers living in Sefton, (including those whose Housing Benefit is paid directly to their landlord) will begin in April 2024.

The exact timing of when each person will be invited to move over to Universal Credit will be determined on a “case by case” basis by the DWP, and as Universal Credit, the council does not know the exact date when any individual person will be invited to migrate over to Universal Credit.


No.

Three months before your Housing Benefit is due to end, the DWP will write to you with details of the exact date your Housing Benefit (and any other legacy benefits) is due to end, and what you need to do to claim Universal Credit.

However, if you do nothing your Housing Benefit (and any other legacy benefits you are also receiving), WILL STOP on the deadline date, shown in your letter. 

As such you need to make your claim for Universal Credit before the date given in the letter, so that you still receive the help with your rent that you are entitled to.

The DWP will write to you three months before your Housing Benefit is due to end.

Universal Credit invite letter (pdf 246KB)

The date you make your claim for Universal credit will dictate the date your Housing Benefit entitlement (and any other legacy benefit you are getting), will end. 

However, this will not be later than the deadline date shown in your invite letter. 

If you DO make your claim for Universal Credit by the deadline date, your Housing Benefit will continue to be paid for two weeks after the date you make your claim for Universal Credit.  this one-off award, is designed to assist you in managing the move to Universal Credit and reduce the likelihood of you getting into rent arrears with your landlord.

For example, If the invite letter from the DWP is dated 15th April telling you that you need to apply for Universal Credit by 14th July, and you apply for Universal Credit on 1st May, your Housing Benefit will end on 14th May and your Universal Credit entitlement will start from 1st May.  Please note that this 2-week run on only applies to Housing benefit and not to any other legacy benefits you receive.

However, in this same example, if you do not apply for Universal credit until 1st August, entitlement to your legacy benefits will still end on 14th July, and you WILL NOT be entitled to the extra 2-weeks Housing Benefit

This is why you MUST make your universal credit claim by the Deadline date, outlined in your invite letter. If you want financial help with your rent.

Example of transitional protection calculation.

You do not have to make a claim for Universal credit if you do not want to.

However, your claim for Housing Benefit WILL STOP the day before the deadline date, highlighted in the letter from the DWP and you will still need to pay the rent for your home to your landlord.

Any other legacy benefits you receive WILL ALSO STOP. 

Therefore, you would not get any help with your rent until you either make a claim for Universal Credit or you (and your partner if you have one) reach pension age (currently 66) and make another claim for Housing Benefit at that time.

If you make your claim for Universal Credit by the deadline date shown in your invite letter, in most cases the point you transfer over to Universal Credit, your Universal Credit entitlement will not be lower than the combined amount of your Housing Benefit and the other legacy benefits which your Universal credit replaces.

This provision is known as “Transitional Protection”.

However, the amount of Transitional Protection may reduce over time if your circumstances change.

Additionally, the amount of Transitional Protection will also reduce over time as your benefit rates increase annually (usually in April each year).

So, in effect, the reduction of the Transitional Protection means that the actual amount of your Universal Credit entitlement will remain the same in cash terms until the transitional amount reduces to zero.

Example of transactional protection calcualtion (pdf 70KB)

 

Universal Credit Helpline:
You can contact the DWP Universal Credit Helpline free on: 0800 328 5644 (textphone: 0800 328 1344).

Helpline opening hours - 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

Additionally, your nearest Jobcentre may be able to assist you to make your claim.

  • Bootle Jobcentre Plus, Stanley Road, Bootle.
  • Crosby Jobcentre Plus, Hougoumont Avenue, Waterloo.
  • Southport Jobcentre Plus, 68b Eastbank Street, Southport
  • Kirkby Jobcentre Plus, St Chads Drive, Kirkby

Opening hours for all Jobcentres - (9am to 5pm each weekday, Wednesday 10am to 5pm)

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Help to Claim service:

If you have any difficultly with the online claim process, or concerns about managing your finances you can contact Citizens Advice who offer a ‘Help to Claim’ service.  Contact us about applying for Universal Credit - Citizens Advice

 

 


Last Updated on Thursday, June 27, 2024

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