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Our FOIs: Universal Credit - How Much
Below are a selection of FOIs we have, over the past few years, sent to the DWP with the answers
We hope you find these useful.

Just click on the FOI you are interested in to see the full question and the answer.


QUESTION
To make up for the fact that there are not exactly 52 weeks in a year many social landlords charge 53 weeks’ rent every seven years rather than 52.
However the Universal Credit regulations do not make any allowance for this when converting weekly rents to monthly for the purpose of calculating the Housing Cost Element.
This means a UC claimant paying 53 weekly rents in such years will only receive an award of UC based on 52 weeks’ worth.
Could you provide any documents/ regs/guidance which explains if and what will be done for such UC claimant to ensure they don’t miss out?
Universal Credit Regulations 2013
SCHEDULE 4
Housing costs element for renters
Relevant payments calculated monthly
7.-
(1) Where any relevant payment is to be taken into account under paragraph 6, the amount of that payment is to be calculated as a monthly amount.
(2) Where the period in respect of which a renter is liable to make a relevant payment is not a month, an amount is to be calculated as the monthly equivalent, so for example-
(a) weekly payments are multiplied by 52 and divided by 12;
(b) four-weekly payments are multiplied by 13 and divided by 12;
(c) three-monthly payments are multiplied by 4 and divided by 12; and
(d) annual payments are divided by 12.
(3) Where a renter is liable for relevant payments under arrangements that provide for one or more rent free periods, the monthly equivalent is to be calculated over 12 months by reference to the total number of relevant payments which the renter is liable to make in that 12 month period.
(4) "Rent free period" means any period in respect of which the renter has no liability to make one or more of the relevant payments which are to be taken into account under paragraph 6.

ANSWER
The guidance states:
"52 week years: Universal Credit will always be calculated based on a 52 week year, unless rent is charged over fewer than 52 weeks."
So there appear to be no plans to adjust for 53 week rent years.

Click here to see the original FOI.


QUESTION
Please can you provide guidance/regulations on the means by which a claimant
may provide evidence of child care costs in Full Service UC:

We have been told that the only way these can be provided is by handing them
in at the Job Centre, but this can be very difficult to do if the claimant is in full
time work and/or lives a long way from the nearest Job Centre.

1. Does it have to be the Job Centre closest to the claimant's home or can it
be one that is near their place of work?

DWP Answer: Jobcentres can use their discretion to handle a claim at the most
appropriate Jobcentre.

2. Is it the case that the evidence of child care costs cannot be posted? If
not, why not?

DWP Answer: 2. Support with childcare costs in Universal Credit is given on proof of paid
childcare costs. Currently claimants have to present evidence of their
childcare costs by providing receipts to their work coach. However, if parents
are working or unable to get to the JCP they can agree with their work coach
to send the childcare receipts in to the JCP, provided that the claimant
continues to meet all that they are required to as part of their Claimant
Commitment.

3. Is it the case that they cannot be scanned/photographed and uploaded onto
the online account? If not, why not? (Is this because they could be tampered
with?)

DWP Answer: 3. This is correct. There is no current facility for electronic upload of childcare receipts. We are looking to add upload functionality to future builds of the
Universal Credit service, which will allow claimants to upload documents as
evidence of childcare costs.

4. Reg 33 of the UC regs says "(2) The childcare costs condition is only met in
respect of an assessment period if those charges are reported to the
Secretary of State before the end of the assessment period following the
assessment period in which they are paid. "
As the word used is "reported" rather than "evidenced" is it the case that
amount can be reported but the evidence provided after the relevant monthly
assessment period and the child care cost element be paid later?”

DWP Answer: Yes. This is correct. The claimant has to report the costs to their work
coach before the end of the Assessment Period to which the costs are
attributed (not necessarily the Assessment Period in which the costs were
paid). The childcare cost element can be paid later, upon receipt of evidence
for care that was reported in the appropriate assessment period.

Click here to see the original FOI.


QUESTION
The way the regulations are written, they could read that a child of a non-dependant is not allocated a bedroom under the size criteria. I am sure I must have misunderstood this as it doesn't seem logical not to allocate a bedroom to a child of a non dependant, when, were their parent to be a renter themselves, they would be allocated a bedroom.

ANSWER
We can confirm that regulations found in the Universal Credit regulations 2013, Schedule 4,paragraphs 9 and 10 allow for children of non-dependants to be included within the room allocation. Children of non-dependants fall within paragraph 9 (1)(C) and are considered a person who is a non-dependant.
More on the Bedroom Tax here.


QUESTION
Can you confirm that where a claimant is in exempt accommodation and thereby receiving help with their housing costs through Housing Benefit rather than UC, that their UC award will be calculated on the higher work allowance - because they have no housing cost element in their UC?

ANSWER
Universal Credit claimants who live in supported exempt accommodation receive help with their housing costs through Housing Benefit. In these circumstances the Universal Credit award will not include a housing costs element and therefore their Universal Credit is calculated on the higher work allowance.