Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.

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.

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
Housing costs element for renters
Relevant payments calculated monthly
(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.

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.

Reg 72(3) of the Universal Credit regs 2013 states:
"Where a person's capital is treated as yielding income, any actual income derived from that capital, for example rental, interest or dividends, is to be treated as part of the person's capital from the day it is due to be paid to the person."
This can mean, for someone renting out a property, what is taken to be their capital rising rapidly - so that they could swiftly be over the £16,000 limit. But is there any account taken of necessary expenses eg maintenance and repairs, insurance etc? I could see no reference to this in the regulations.

The Universal Credit Regulations 2013 make it clear that all capital which is not disregarded is taken into account in the assessment of Universal Credit and what expenses are taken into account in valuing that capital. Our Advice for Decision Makers guide is also publicly available and provides more information. You may be interested in the chapters on the treatment of capital:
ADM Chapter H1
ADM Chapter H2
You should note that Freedom of Information legislation does not oblige us to provide advice on legislation but we have provided an answer in this case.
Where Universal Credit claimants own a property which they do not live in, the value of the property is treated as capital for the purposes of Universal Credit. The value of the property is assessed at the market value of the property less any encumbrances on the property, e.g. mortgages or loans secured against that property, and an amount to cover the costs of selling the property.
Any rental income from the property will be treated as part of a claimant’s capital from the day it is due to be paid. Expenses incurred in renting out the property would not be an encumbrance on the property and would not be taken into account when assessing the value of the claimant’s capital.
The usual capital rules for Universal Credit are then applied. Households who have capital of over £16,000 are not usually entitled to Universal Credit. People with capital between £6,000 and £16,000 will have their Universal Credit reduced by an assumed income of £4.35 per month for each £250 or part of £250 of capital they have over £6,000. Capital below £6,000 is disregarded.
While it is important to encourage saving, it has never been thought right for valuable assets or substantial amounts of capital to be ignored altogether when deciding entitlement to welfare support. It is reasonable that there should be a limit to the amount of savings and the value of assets that claimants can hold whilst still claiming welfare support.
The £16,000 upper capital limit strikes a balance between protecting less well-off people and protecting the taxpayer, whilst at the same time recognising the conscientious efforts of people who have built up capital. This limit ensures that the help which comes from taxpayers, many of whom are themselves on low incomes and have limited capital, is directed to people who need it most.
Click here to see the original FOI.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.