Q. My Universal Credit includes an amount towards my housing costs, my landlord is a social housing provider. Is it possible to have the housing payments made directly to them as I am worried about not keeping up to date with my rent?
A. You can ask for an alternative payment arrangement for Universal Credit to have rent paid directly to a landlord, as well as asking for fortnightly instead of the usual monthly payments. You can also request your Universal Credit payments can be split if you are part of a couple. The current criteria states alternative payment arrangements can be made if; are in debt or rent arrears, have a disability – including a mental health condition, are homeless or are at risk of losing your home, have experienced domestic violence, have a learning difficulty, like problems with reading or writing, are in temporary or supported accommodation, are 16 or 17 or leaving care, have an addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling. Even if none of the above apply you can still request a change to how you are paid and to who if you struggling with payments.
In recent advice columns we have answered queries concerning potential underpayments of Employment & Support Allowance, it was reported yesterday that the DWP will be paying arrears to affected customer from the date they transferred to the benefit from a legacy benefit. Previously the government were only going to be paying arrears from October 2014 even though some people had been underpaid since 2011 when migration to the benefit. They have now confirmed arrears will be paid to those affected from the earliest date they were underpaid. No action is required and those affected will be contacted, but as always you should make enquiries to check if you were possibly underpaid. There have been no statements as to whether additional compensation will be paid or additional sums for those claimants who may have incorrectly paid for things like prescriptions, dental treatments, etc. when they would have been exempt from such costs.