HQN Rent Income Excellence Network News
Each week Tony Newman and Sue Beasor, associates for The Rent Income Excellence Network (RIEN), go over the biggest and most relevant news stories, reports and publications of the past week for members, while providing their own analysis and comment.
For more expert analysis, briefings and best practice for those involved with income collection, tenant arrears, benefits and Universal Credit and customer support, be sure to join RIEN. You can find out more here.
Members of RIEN can download the full weekly updates from Tony and Sue here.
Friday 15 February 2019 – By Sue Beasor
Migration to Universal Credit
Community Housing Cymru is urging the DWP to share information on when tenants will be transferring from legacy benefits to Universal Credit, so they are able to offer the correct support.
Universal credit and food bank use
Staff at Lewes jobcentre have been ordered not to refer Universal Credit claimants to food banks, in a move campaigners have said is preventing vulnerable people from getting vital help and ‘hiding’ those who are in need.
The Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd, has said that the increased use of food banks is partly down to problems in rolling out Universal Credit. She said she was ‘absolutely clear there were challenges with the initial roll-out’ of the benefit and that the difficulty in accessing money was ‘one of the causes’ of the rise.
Benefit sanctions for Universal Credit claimants
Universal credit claimants who refuse zero-hours contract jobs risk DWP sanctions, a Parliamentary question has confirmed. But DWP minister Alok Sharma avoided answering whether such sanctions were ‘policy’ in his written response to the question from Labour’s Stephen Timms.
Ministers have rejected calls from MPs to ease benefit sanctions on vulnerable universal credit claimants, prompting concerns that they are failing to act on warnings that disabled people and single parents are being pushed into ‘grinding poverty.’
Monday 11 February 2019 – By Tony Newman
DWP claim that 53-week year will not affect UC claimants
The DWP has responded to concerns raised by housing providers regarding a potential shortfall of rent for UC claimants.
The NHF and others have argued that tenants who pay weekly rent, due on the Monday of each week, will miss out on one week’s payment. This argument is based on the fact that there are 53 Mondays in 2019 and UC payments are calculated and paid on a monthly basis.
Quoted in an article for Inside Housing, the DWP says that, “No-one on Universal Credit will be left with a week’s rent shortfall as a result of having 53 rent payments in a year.”
“Having 53 rent days does not mean paying more rent over a year as most of the final payment will cover the first week’s rent for the following year.”
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Managing Money on Universal Credit
The latest report from Citizen’s Advice reveals that 49% of those it helps with Universal Credit are in arrears over housing payments. The report calls for a rethink of UC, including:
- Increasing the support for new claimants
- Ensuring that UC provides enough to live on
- Helping people to budget by providing greater flexibility as to how income is assessed and when UC is paid.
RLA urges a right to direct UC rent payments
The Residential Landlords Association members have called for the right to direct payments of rent under Universal Credit.
LA Welfare Direct bulletins: 2019
These local authority welfare direct bulletins provide information, that affects housing benefit and other areas of the DWP, to local authority staff.