What is the Universal Credit housing element and how much will you get towards your rent? | The Sun

PEOPLE who are struggling to keep up with rent or mortgage payments can get financial help through Universal Credit.

The government's benefit scheme rolls six payments into one, including housing benefit.

That means you'll have to apply to the system first, unless you're already being migrated across.

You might already be receiving housing benefit and are due to be rolled onto Universal Credit because your circumstances have changed.

If this is the case, your payments will continue for two weeks after you've applied.

The system has been plagued with problems since it first launched nearly 10 years ago, which is why The Sun is campaigning to Make Universal Credit Work.

But for now, if you're finding it hard to pay for your rent or mortgage bills here's how you can get help under the benefit.

What is the Universal Credit housing element?

The housing cost element of Universal Credit is cash to go towards paying your housing costs, including rent, ground rent and service charges.

Both council and private tenants can apply for help, but only those who are responsible for paying the bills will be able to get it.

What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit

IF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:

Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit pay out.

Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.

Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government to help with emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases such as your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.

Cut your council tax – You might be able to get a discount on your council tax or be entitled to discretionary housing payments if your payments aren't enough to cover your rent.

Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.

You're not entitled payments if you live in a home that's owned by a close relative, like your parents, and neither can full-time students unless you are disable or have children who rely on you.

The payment is not a loan so you won't have to pay it back.

You won't need to repay the loan until you sell the house where the amount you won will be taken off the sale price.

You may still be entitled to help from Universal Credit housing element to help pay for ground rent and service charges, even if you can't get help with your mortgage.

How to apply for the Universal Credit housing support

If you already get Universal Credit, applying for housing payments can be done through your online account.

If you haven't yet made a claim, you need to apply for Universal Credit first.

To do this, you'll need an email address and must be able to verify your identity online.

If you need help applying for either housing payments or Universal Credit, there is a helpline on offer.

You can call it on 0800 328 5644.

 

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How much rent will Universal Credit pay?

How much you will be entitled to depends on where you live and whether you're a private or council tenant.

Private tenant

Your housing costs are calculated using the Local Housing Allowance – you can find out how much you can expect by using this online tool.

Universal Credit looks at average rents in your area and the number of rooms you need based on how in your household depend on your benefits.

For example, if you are a single person under 35 and you don't have any dependant children then your payment will be based on how much it costs to rent a room in shared accommodation.

If you're a parent with one child, then your housing costs will be based on the average price of a two-bed home in your area.

If your home is larger than you need or too expensive then your payment might not cover your rent.

Council and housing association tenants

Your housing costs element is calculated based on how much rent you already pay but also takes into account how many rooms you actually need.

So if your house has more bedrooms than you need then the amount of money you get might not cover your rent.

You're allowed one bedroom for each category below:

  • One per adult couple,
  • Each person over 16,
  • Per two children of the same sex under 16,
  • Per two children under 10, regardless of their sex,
  • Any other child on top of the previous points,
  • An overnight carer you need but doesn't live with you.

If you have any spare rooms in your house then how much help you're entitled to will reduced by:

  • 14 per cent for one spare room,
  • 25 per cent for two or more spare rooms.

You may be protected from a reduction if:

  • You are a foster carer who have had a child place with them or have registered as a carer in the past 12 months,
  • Parents who has a spare room while their child is away with the armed forces,
  • You have a serverly disabled child who can't share a room with a sibling.

Can I get the Universal Credit housing element if I have a mortgage?

Homeowners will only be entitled to cash towards paying off the monthly interest payments as long as they aren't earning any income, for example, you've unexpectedly lost your job.

That includes couples so if you're making a claim together, and one of you earns a wage then neither of you will qualify.

You will only be able to get help if you've been claiming Universal Credit for 39 weeks or more, with no breaks or earned income.

The amount you're entitled to will be based on your interest rate set by your lender applied to the outstanding amount you have on your mortgage, up to £200,000.

There will be a three-month waiting period and payments stop as soon as you start work again, even if you're only earning a small amount.

If you are rejected for help under Universal Credit, you can also apply for a Support for Mortgage Interest Loan instead.

The Government will lend you money for your monthly mortgage payments but you will be charged interest.

How is the Universal Credit housing element paid?

For tenants, the housing cost element will be paid to you as part of your Universal Credit payment and will go straight into your bank account.

In special circumstances, you can request that the payment be made directly to your landlords although this isn't guaranteed.

For homeowners, the SMI is paid directly to your lender.

 

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