BENEFITS EXPERT: Why has rental help fallen as it will cause future hardship?
Q. I am 27 and live by myself in a private rented property. My rental costs are covered by Universal Credit and I’m also awaiting my medical assessment for capability for work.
I also received the daily living element of PIP but following a renewal/review application it was decided I was no longer entitled to the benefit. I have requested a Mandatory Reconsideration of this decision and am awaiting the outcome, I do know that if this is unsuccessful I have the option of taking the matter to a tribunal.
When I received this month’s payment of Universal Credit I noticed that the amount payable for rent has dropped substantially and I will have to make up the shortfall from my UC. This along with the loss of PIP income will cause me future hardship. Why has my rent costs for my UC dropped and is there any additional help to cover the shortfall?
A. For single people living in privately rented accommodation and who are under 35 will have their rental costs calculated with reference to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules (the principle applies whether you receive Housing Benefit or the UC Housing Element). In such a situation your rent costs will be capped at a maximum and this will be for shared accommodation and not the actual number of bedrooms you have or your actual rental amount. Any shortfall will normally be made up by the tenant. For people under receiving either PIP for daily living (whether standard or enhanced) or DLA care (either middle or higher rate) then the LHA will be your local authority rate for a one bedroom property. As your PIP award has ended you have dropped from a one bedroom rate to the lower shared rate. If your PIP MR succeeds then you will move back to the previous higher LHA with any arrears of your housing element also paid.
In the interim as there is no guarantee your MR will be successful then you can apply for discretionary housing payments from your local authority to make up the shortfall. As the name suggests there is no guarantee payments will be made and if they are they are normally for a fixed period and you can re-apply but again there is no guarantee a second application will succeed.