Someone who has made a claim for Universal Credit and is awaiting the outcome of that claim will not be able to make a claim for HB – unless they live in ‘specified accommodation’ (UC(TP) Reg 6 para 2b)
. This includes those who have made a claim and received a decision and have requested a mandatory reconsideration or appeal (UC(TP) Reg 6 para 2e).
What if someone has never made a claim for UC but passes all the ‘Gateway Conditions’ ie would be entitled to Universal Credit if they made a claim?
Someone cannot be a Universal Credit claimant unless they have made a claim for it. The Universal Credit Regulations (UC(TP) Reg 6 para 2a)
state that claimants ‘entitled to Universal Credit’ will not be able to claim HB (unless living in ‘specified accommodation’). However, it is generally held that someone cannot be ‘entitled to’ a benefit unless they have made a claim for it (eg to be excluded from the Benefit Cap because entitled to WTC the claimant must have made an application for WTC and received confirmation that they meet the claiming criteria even if the WTC award is ‘nil’ due to income).
So the HB Office cannot refuse to accept a HB claim from someone just because they appear to meet the Universal Credit claiming conditions and ‘gateway conditions’ if they have never actually made a claim for Universal Credit. See Standard Letter UC CP36
Shane is 35 and single. He has not been claiming any benefits in the last few years. His work contract as a building site labourer has recently ended so he is looking for another job, but he has no money to live on or to pay his rent. He has no access to the internet and he has never used a computer, so he would like to avoid Universal Credit if he can. He goes to his Council to make a claim for HB. The HB Office should accept his claim – they cannot refuse his claim just because he appears to meet the ‘gateway conditions’ as he is not a Universal Credit claimant.
(Shane will also need money to live on; he knows he will not be entitled to contributory JSA because he was a self-employed contractor, but he should be entitled to income-based JSA. If he makes his claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance after making his HB claim but before the HB claim is decided, he does not satisfy the Universal Credit gateway conditions at that time and he should be able to claim JSA instead of Universal Credit.)
What if they have made a claim but Universal Credit is not awarded?
Assuming they are not challenging this decision, then whether or not they can claim Housing Benefit will depend on the reason why Universal Credit is not awarded.
If Universal Credit is not awarded because the claimant’s earnings are too high given their circumstances then they are likely to fall under ‘6 month rule’ as described below.
If Universal Credit is not awarded for another reason then they are not classed as a Universal Credit claimant and can make a new claim for Housing Benefit.
What if they withdraw their claim for Universal Credit before it is determined?
A Universal Credit claimant can withdraw their claim at any time – if they do this before the claim is assessed/determined then they are usually* not classed as a Universal Credit claimant and can then make a claim for HB. But before someone withdraws their claim they need to seek advice – to make sure that they are not still treated as a Universal Credit claimant anyway and that withdrawing their Universal Credit claim is definitely the best option for them.
*as long as they don’t fall to be a Universal Credit claimant under any other rule.