Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
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Moving in and out of specified accommodation
1. Moving from general needs INTO specified accommodation

Where they have been getting Housing Benefit in their general needs accommodation

Where a tenant has been getting Housing Benefit, and moves into specified accommodation in the same local authority,  they will remain on Housing Benefit (even if they have had a change in circumstances which has meant they have now had to start claiming Universal Credit).

Where a tenant has been getting Housing Benefit, and moves into specified accommodation in a different local authority, their Housing Benefit for the old address will come to an end;  but they will be able to claim Housing Benefit for their housing costs (even if they have had a change in circumstances which has meant they have had to claim Universal Credit).

Where a tenant has been on Universal Credit in their general needs property:

They will need to:

  • Notify the DWP online (or by phone/letter if they are an "offline" claimant) of their change in circumstances and that the property they have moved to is 'specified accommodation'.
  • Apply for Housing Benefit to cover their new rental liability - the HB Regulations give them a month in which to do thi,s with the claim automatically backdated.

How much HB is awarded?

Universal Credit acts as a 'passport' to HB ie their earnings, other income, savings etc is totally disregarded and they are entitled to their maximum Housing Benefit.

In other words regardless of the claimant's income or savings if they are on Universal Credit they will receive their maximum Housing Benefit entitlement.

What happens to the claimant's Universal Credit award?

Because Universal Credit is paid one month in arrears and takes a whole month approach to managing changes in circumstance, it is the circumstances at the end of the claimant's Monthly Assessment Period that are applied for the whole of that assessment period when their Universal Credit award for that month is calculated.

So when a Universal Credit claimant moves from rented accommodation into 'specified accommodation', they are, at the end of the Monthly Assessment Period in which they moved, now  unable to have the Housing Costs Element in respect of their 'old' tenancy included in the calculation of their Universal Credit award for that month (because someone in specified accommodation can't have a UC Housing Cost Element). Instead, they are entitled to Housing Benefit - but this will normally only begin on the date they move into the 'specified accommodation'.

Discretionary Housing Payment to fill the gap?

From 11th April 2018 the Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001 have been amended to allow a Local Authority to award a Discretionary Housing Payment to a UC claimant for any Monthly Assessment Period when the claimant would have been entitled to a Universal Credit Housing Costs Element were it not for the fact that they moved into 'specified accommodation' or 'temporary accommodation' as defined by the Regulations.

This means that even where for part of a Monthly Assessment Period the claimant might not have been getting HB or a Housing Costs Element in their UC, so long as they require further financial assistance with their housing costs then they will be eligible throughout the period of that Monthly Assessment Period if they have been living in 'specified accommodation' or 'temporary accommodation' as defined by the Regulations.


Example:

Ollie was living in a privately rented bedsit but his tenancy was brought to an end when his landlord wanted to sell the property. He was getting Universal Credit which included £238.33 a month Housing Costs Element to help him pay his rent of £55 a week. He is unable to move in with his parents and moves into a hostel for young people run by a Housing Association.

His Universal Credit Monthly Assessment Period runs from the 5th to the 4th of the month. He moves into the hostel on 17th March when his tenancy there starts, although his tenancy at the bedsit ends on 30th March.

He notifies the DWP of his change in circumstances - that he has moved into 'specified accommodation' - and makes a claim for Housing Benefit.

The payment of Universal Credit he receives on 11th April, to cover 5th March - 4th April has no Housing Costs Element included because at the end of this Monthly Assessment Period - ie on 4th April - he was living in 'specified accommodation'.

His Housing Benefit will start on 17th March - the date he moved into the hostel.

He can request a DHP to cover the 'gap' between the last day of his UC including a Housing Costs Element and the first day of his HB.



2. Moving OUT of specified accommodation into general needs:

Where they have been on legacy benefits while in their specified accommodation

If they have been on legacy benefits and move into general needs accommodation in the same local authority then, unless they have some other change of circumstances that means they now have to claim Universal Credit, they will stay on Housing Benefit (and their other legacy benefits).

If they do claim Universal Credit then they will need to claim their help with their rent through a Housing Cost Element in UC - see below for how they do this.

If they have been on legacy benefits but move into general needs housing in a different local authority then their Housing Benefit will end and they will need to claim Universal Credit.

Where they have been on Universal Credit while in their specified accommodation

If they were
on UC while in their specified accommodation, then regardless of whether they move into a new local authority or stay in the same one, their Housing Benefit will end as the only reason they were getting it was because they were in specified accommodation.

They will need to:

  • Notify the DWP on-line (or via the Universal Credit helpline: 0800 328 5644 if on the off-line service) of their change in circumstances and that they are no longer living in 'specified accommodation'.
  • If they have moved into 'general let' rented accommodation, provide the DWP with evidence of their new tenancy and rent so that a Housing Costs Element can be included in their UC award.
  • Notify the Housing Benefit Office that they have moved - and request HB for any notice period (because they can be 'treated as' living in specified accommodation for this period and therefore not excluded from getting HB) - use Standard Letter HB UC2 if the HB Office refuses.

What happens to the claimant's Universal Credit award?

Because Universal Credit is paid one month in arrears and takes a whole month approach to managing changes in circumstance, it is the circumstances at the end of the claimant's Monthly Assessment Period that are applied for the whole of that assessment period when their Universal Credit award for that month is calculated.

So a Universal Credit claimant who moves out of 'specified accommodation' into general needs rented accommodation will have a Housing Costs Element included in their Universal Credit assessment for the whole of the Monthly Assessment Period in which they move (assuming they notify the DWP of this beneficial change in their circumstances by the end of that monthly period). Their Housing Benefit award will be stopped from the Monday after they move - unless they are entitled to Housing Benefit for their notice period. 

Example:

Tanya has been living in a Housing Association mother and baby unit classed as 'specified accommodation'. She is entitled to Universal Credit and Housing Benefit.

She has been offered a Housing Association two bedroom house (rent £90 a week) with a tenancy start date of 23rd June. Her Universal Credit Monthly Assessment Period runs from the 9th to the 8th of the month.

She moves into the house on 2nd July and notifies the DWP straight away of this change in her circumstances. The payment of Universal Credit she receives on the 15th July - ie in respect of 9th June to 8th July - will include a Housing Costs Element of £390 when it is assessed - this is based on her circumstances as at 8th July - ie living in the two bedroom house.

Her Housing Benefit award for the mother and baby unit will stop the Monday after she moved out of the mother and baby unit (unless she is entitled to any Housing Benefit for a notice period).






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