Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
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Universal Credit and hospital
KEY FACTS:

  • Universal Credit can continue in payment when someone goes into hospital. But single claimants who are in hospital for more than 6 months (or are expected to be absent from home for more than 6 months) are not classed as occupying their home ie they are away too long to be classed as just  ‘temporarily absent’ from it. So they will no longer be entitled to have a Housing Cost Element included in their UC assessment. Click here for more information.

  • Where the claimant remains entitled to a Housing Costs Element (because they are likely to return home within 6 months), then being in hospital may have an impact on the amount of the Housing Costs Element. From the start of the Monthly Assessment Period during which payment of their disability benefit (eg daily living component of PIP) is suspended (which happens after 28 days in hospital), the claimant would no longer be entitled to an extra bedroom for a carer and could become subject to Housing Costs Contributions (ie non-dependant deductions).

  • A joint claim where one member of the couple is in hospital continues as a joint claim, but if the stay in hospital exceeds, or is expected to exceed 6 months, the joint claim will need to be converted to two single claims until the person in hospital returns home. (Reg 3(6) of the UC Regulations 2013).

  • A joint claim could be affected where one member of the couple is disabled and the other is their carer, and a Carer Element is included in a UC award. If the disabled member of the couple is in hospital for more than 28 days, their disability benefit (eg. daily living component of PIP) will be suspended. This has a knock-on effect on the Carer Element for the carer – it will cease to be included in the UC assessment from the start of the Monthly Assessment Period during which payment of the disability benefit is suspended.

 

  • Reporting the change / making a claim for UC from hospital can be problematic.
       
  • If the claimant was subject to work search and work availability requirements prior to going into hospital they will need to ensure these requirements are 'switched off' whilst they are in hospital.

  • If the claimant believes they now have a Limited Capability for Work they should self-certify, provide a 'fit note' and request a Work Capability Assessment.

  • Where the claimant lives in rented accommodation and is going to struggle to pay their rent whilst in hospital ie no APA managed payment or direct debit is already set up, then they could request that a temporary APA managed payment be set up.

  • If the claimant wasn't on UC before going into hospital but would like to make a claim - click here to find out how they can do this.

  •  The UC Regulations state that where a claimant becomes liable for housing costs whilst a patient or whilst living in a care home, and they delay moving into their new home, that they will be treated as living in their new property for up to a month during the delay, but only once they have moved in to it.

  • Some Universal Credit claimants can claim a refund of reasonable travel costs when they attend a hospital or clinic appointment - click here for more details.

  • Where it is a non-dependant who is in hospital, a Housing Costs Contributions (ie non-dependant deduction) can still be taken from the claimant's Housing Costs Element when their UC is assessed if the non-dependant is still classed as living in their home ie the stay is not expected to be 6 months or more - click here.

  • Where it is a dependent child/young person who is in hospital, they are still counted as living in the household as long as the stay is not expected to be 6 months or more - click here.