Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
18-21 Housing Costs
18-21 Housing Costs
From 1st April 2017 some young people who are on Universal Credit under the 'Full'/Digital service will not be able to make a new claim for the Housing Costs Element - although many will (ie by being exempt for these new rules) - see below.

This does not, although reported in the press as such, affect Housing Benefit - the amending regulations only amend the Universal Credit Regulations.

The intention behind the change is to “ensure young people in the benefits system face the same choices as young people who work and who may not be able to afford to leave home.” 

The regulations have been published and take effect from 1st April 2017.

We have produced a flowchart - click here.

For some Frequently Asked Questions - click here.

And for some examples - click here.

Who is affected by this change?

The measure affects:

  • Single 18-21 year olds (ie up to the day before 22nd birthday).
  • This includes those who are part of a couple but who have to claim as singles - click here.
  • Who are claiming UC on the Digital (Full) Service (with exceptions for those moved from the Live Service or Housing Benefit - see below).
  • Who on or after 1st April 2017 need a Housing Cost Element included in their claim ie either by: 
    • making a new claim for UC, or
    • becoming liable for rent whilst on UC.
  • Who are a jobseeker expected to spend 35 hours a week looking for work or if working are not earning at least the monthly equivalent of the National Minimum wage that applies to them for 16 hours a week,
  • Who could live with their parents,
  • And are not otherwise exempted/protected - see below.

Which young people are exempted/protected from this change?

The DWP want to exempt from these provisions any young person who has barriers to work and/or no parental home in which they can live.

These are:

  • Couples - unless they are having to claim as a single person - click here.
  • Those responsible for a child, qualifying young person, or foster child.
  • Those who receive daily living PIP or mid or high rate care PIP.
  • Those who are subject to MAPPA.
  • Those living in temporary accommodation (as defined in the UC Regulations).
  • Care leavers (formerly provided with accommodation under section 20 of the Children Acct 1989, or in Scotland section 25 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1989, and were living there on their 16th birthday).
  • Those unable to live with their parents because they have no parent or because neither parent occupies accommodation as their home in Great Britain.
  • Young people where the DWP consider it inappropriate* for them to live with parents - including, but not limited to, those at a serious risk to their physical or mental health or who would suffer significant harm, if they lived with them.
  • Those who have had domestic violence inflicted upon them or threatened against them, by their partner / former partner or a family member.
  • Working** young people earning above a earnings threshold, and
  • Those who have been in work** for 6 months or more - for the first 6 months after leaving work.
  • Those not falling within the 'all work-requirements group' - eg, not: with a limited capability for work/work related activities, full time carer, pregnant and 11 weeks before baby is due, full time apprentice.
  • Those who, even if in the all-work related requirements group, have been given their "expected hours" as under 35 per week have a physical or mental impairment, because they have caring responsibilities, are the main carer of a foster child.
  • Those who, even if in the all work related requirements group, have had their requirements suspended because: They are in a period of short term sickness, partner/child died in previous 6 months, receiving structured recovery-orientated course of alcohol or drug dependency treatment (max 6 months), receiving medical treatment abroad, on remand or in prison, under police protection, attending court or Tribunal as party to any proceedings or as a witness.

* This will include more than just those 'estranged' from their parents and could include where the parental home is overcrowded, or where the parental home is in an area where it would not be safe or inappropriate for the young person to live.

** The earnings threshold is earning, within the Monthly Assessment Period, a monthly figure equal to or greater than (their appropriate National Minimum wage X 16 hours per week) x 52/12 (or if an apprentice, earning the appropriate National Minimum Wage under the National Minimum  Wage  regulations on the last day of the assessment period).

Others not affected, or not affected for now

The measure only affects claimants on the 'Full'/Digital service, however some 'Full'/Digital service claimants even if not falling under any of the above exemptions, will still not be affected:

The provisions do not apply to:
  • Those who are already getting a Housing Cost Element in their 'Full'/Digital Service claim as long as there is no break in the claim or loss of Housing Costs Element.
  • Those getting a Housing Cost Element in a 'Live'/Gateway Service area, or getting Housing Benefit, immediately prior to a move to Digital (Full) service and that claim includes a Housing Costs Element from the first MAP. There must be no break between the two claims - not even of one day.

NOTE: The rules for 16 and 17 year olds remain unchanged.

What can those affected do?

The DWP have estimated that there will be 10,000 young people affected by this measure.

18-21 year olds who are affected will not be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment as no Housing Costs Element will be included when their Universal Credit award is assessed.

Analysis of the proposal and its implications by Crisis - "The withdrawal of support for housing costs under Universal Credit for young people: more pain for little gain?" here.

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