Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Search



Coronavirus: Universal Credit - Stuck Abroad?
Universal Credit - Stuck Abroad?
Due to the Coronavirus some people are stuck abroad and struggling to get back to the UK.

There has been no change to the UC regulations, however, it is worth asking the UC dept to continue to pay UC.

We have heard that there is some internal guidance to Housing Benefit staff, advising that they can continue to pay HB where the claimant is stuck abroad and is unable to return due to the Coronavirus travel restrictions. Although, as yet, we have no information about any UC guidance, we feel it is safe to assume that a similar policy would apply to UC.

Therefore, if a UC claimant is stuck abroad (or expects to be) for a month or more, we would advise them to make a request that their UC continues due to the extenuating circumstances. If their UC is suspended or terminated, they should request a mandatory reconsideration of that decision.

 

If they are not already on UC, we do not think that they will be able to make a new claim for it if they are stuck abroad, even if they have no income for the period they are abroad. However, if claiming UC would be the best option for them (eg they are not currently getting Tax Credits), there is probably no harm in trying, as there might be some internal DWP guidance allowing a new UC claim to be made in these specific circumstances. If they are unable to claim online from abroad, they could make a claim over the phone. 

 

If they are unable to claim and they need help paying their rent, it is worth checking to see if there is anyone else living in the property who may already be getting UC or could make a new claim for it - they may be able to get help with the rent if the DWP considers it reasonable to treat them as liable for the rent in the tenant's absence.


Frequently Asked Questions
We have a tenant who is currently in his home country of Romania. He is unable to travel home due to the Coronavirus outbreak. He is planning to return but does not know when this will be. 
He was previously self employed and had no claim for benefits. 
Would he be able to make a new claim for UC to cover his housing costs whilst out of the country due to Coronavirus?

There's nothing to stop him trying to claim from abroad (online or over the phone) but we think he would probably be turned down, unless the DWP have some extra-statutory measures to allow a new claim (but we are not aware of any).
Under the basic conditions of entitlement to UC he has to be "in Great Britain" - which means physically being in GB as well as passing both parts of the habitual residence test.
And he doesn't even come under the temporary absence rules (Reg 11 of the UC Regs treats someone as being in GB if away and intending to return within a month), because those rules only apply to people who were already on UC when they went away.
He could check if his travel insurance could cover his rent payments while he is stuck abroad.
Or, if someone else was already living in the property when he went away, they might be able to claim - they could be treated as liable to pay the rent while the tenant is away if the DWP considers it reasonable to do so.

9

9

9

9

9