Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
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Confusion leaves claimants over £60 a week worse off

Claimants moving home are being told they have to claim UC……but this is not always the case.

As many claimants are worse off under UC (click here) we need to ensure that people moving home are receiving the right advice.

When an area goes ‘Digital’, (ie Full service)the benefit authorities can no longer take new claims for Income Support, Income-Based JSA, Income-Related ESA, Tax Credits or Housing Benefit* for anyone of working age. But they should not close down a claim just because someone has a change in circumstances – such as moving home (apart from where HB ends due to moving out of the LA area).

So moves within an LA area do not always trigger the need to claim UC, but a move to a different LA might#.

If a tenant is moving within the LA area and is a HB claimant already~ then the move is just a change of address: it is not a new claim and so their HB should not be brought to an end.

But if they are not a HB claimant already and need help with their rent on moving into a rented property then that is likely to trigger the need to claim UC#.

NOTE: There may be other changes taking place at the same time as the move that might trigger an end to a legacy benefit and mean a claim for UC#, such as: moving in with a partner who has a child, moving to become a carer, splitting from a partner, etc – please see our Crib Sheet for more situations.

#Just because someone cannot claim Housing Benefit does not mean that they should automatically be advised to claim UC. Some claimants may still be better off on the legacy benefit system - even without any HB - than they would be on UC. So a better off assessment needs to be done (and don’t forget to take into consideration any deductions that may be taken from the UC, as these tend to be higher than under the legacy benefit system).

*unless the claimant lives in ‘specified accommodation’ or, from 11th April 2018, ‘temporary accommodation’  - where UC is not already covering their rent.

~ When considering couple claims for HB, only one of the couple is the HB claimant, and the other member is their partner - it is not a 'joint claim'. If the couple have separated and the partner wants to receive help with their rent on their property then, unless they are Pension Credit age or moving to ‘specified accommodation,’ they would not be able to claim HB#.