The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has rejected a proposal from an SNP MP to make Housing Benefit claimants eligible for the £900 means-tested cost of living payments. The first of the three payments (£301) which make up the £900 is currently being made to over eight million households on qualifying benefits including Universal Credit, Tax Credits and Pension Credit.
Stewart Malcolm McDonald asked the DWP if it would “make an assessment of the potential merits of adding Housing Benefit to the list of qualifying benefits for eligibility to access the cost of living payment”. However, in a written response on May 10, Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression, Mims Davies MP explained that “Housing Benefit is not an income replacement benefit” and is only intended to cover housing costs.
Housing Benefit can be claimed alongside income-related benefits such as Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Tax Credits, Income Support and Pension Credit - which all qualify for the means-tested cost of living payments.
The first payment window for DWP payments of £301 will close on May 17. The DWP recently said that it estimates a further 42,000 people will be eligible for the next means-tested cost of living payment worth £300 - due to be paid in the autumn.
The DWP Minister responded: “Housing Benefit is not an income replacement benefit; it is intended to cover only housing costs. Those with the lowest incomes may be able to claim a qualifying means-tested benefit alongside Housing Benefit to cover their other living costs, which would make them eligible for a Cost of Living Payment.”
Ms Davies also highlighted that Housing Benefit is administered by local authorities, and is sometimes paid directly to a landlord. She explained: “Payments to those receiving only Housing Benefit could not therefore be delivered in a quick, accurate and straightforward manner.”
Qualifying benefits for £301 payment
This will be paid to eligible households receiving the following benefits:
- Universal Credit
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Pension Credit
- Working Tax Credit - payment window closed on May 9
- Child Tax Credit - payment window closed on May 9
All cost of living payments are tax-free, will not count towards the benefit cap, and will not have any impact on existing benefit awards.
People who do not qualify for the means-tested cost of living payment could be eligible for direct support from their local council. Additional funds have been provided for the Scottish Government to support households in all 32 local authorities across Scotland.
You can check if you can get help during the cost of living crisis on the mygov.scot website here.
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