Those who claim Universal Credit have been encouraged to report any hikes in rent payments to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This comes as many anticipate an increase in housing costs in the new financial year, while Universal Credit payments are set to stay the same.
Universal Credit is paid arrears, meaning it needs a full four-week assessment period after the annual rise came into effect on April 10. As a result, those who claim the cash won't see the new rates applied to their payments until at least May 16.
Some may not even get the increase until June, reports Birmingham Live. A number of local authorities have now spoken out and urged tenants to tell the DWP the details of any rent changes.
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This allows councils to adjust the benefit levels to cover them. Universal Credit includes a housing element built into the payment. Birmingham City Council is among the local authorities urging tenants to make sure the DWP has details of any new rental charges so it can adjust benefit levels to cover them.
The city council today put out a social media message urging people to update their Universal Credit account so that the DWP can alter the amount it pays towards rent. It said: "If you are a Birmingham City Council tenant and claiming Universal Credit housing costs, you must let the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) know about your rent increase.
"The DWP will add information to your Universal Credit journal which will ask you to update your annual rent change. You will need to complete this on or after April 3, 2023 to allow your housing costs to be paid correctly following your rent increase. You cannot report an annual rent change before April 3, 2023."
Tenants will have to complete three steps:
Confirm that your rent increased on April 3, 2023.
Confirm the new rent amount. Make sure you enter this correctly. You should have received a letter (either from the council or any other landlord) advising you of your new rent amount
Confirm whether you have any service charges.
In the case of council properties, the city council will then verify your housing costs to the DWP to confirm that's how much you're being charged in rent. Other property organisations and private landlords will do the same. Tenants must complete these steps regardless of whether their rent is paid by themselves out of their Universal Credit payment or whether the DWP sends the housing element directly to Birmingham City Council or another landlord.
The city council said: "If you need any more assistance or support with managing your rent account, you can phone our rent service on 0121 675 2006 or use our housing rents enquiry form."
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