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UC and the 53 rent weeks in a year phenomenom

androgynousandrogynous Posts: 25Member Connected
edited December 2019 in Universal Credit
Yes, It's true. There are officially 53 rent weeks in a year as there are 53 Mondays in the 'rent' year 2019 - 2020.

Due to Universal Credit being paid monthly and most social housing rents being paid weekly, there are 53 Mondays in the current 'social housing' rental year, due to the accounting systems they use, I believe, meaning Universal Credit claimants will be left without payment for one weeks rent in 2019 - 2020.

The DWP's decision to only provide 52 weeks rent payment to claimants, will bring hardship to tennants.

Of which I am one, and I now will be in rent arrears as I'm being asked to pay my 53rd week's rent now. According to the DWP, this will right itself the first week of April 2020 when you will be 5 days in credit?

What if your landlord insists on the 'arrears' now, and won't wait until April 2020? Where do you stand legally?

There seems to be lots of conflicting comments about all this and no advice for what these tennants should do.

There is always one day ( Two, in a leap year) for which tennants in receipt of UC, don't receive rent, in any case. The DWP are supposed to be investigating this, too.

The DWP claims the 53 week rent year will not have an impact on social tennants.

Any advice out there, please? There seems to be very little information available at the moment.

The next 53 week rent year is 2024.

Hi and sorry for the long post.

Replies

  • woodbinewoodbine Posts: 313Member Pioneering
    Don't most social landlords e.g councils give tenants 2 rent "free" weeks every year? I know that they used to.
  • androgynousandrogynous Posts: 25Member Connected
    This is the case even for tenants with rent free weeks.

    The DWP has recognised there is an issue with the way the calculation in Universal Credit regulations convert a weekly liability into a monthly allowance and are currently considering whether this formulation around weekly rents, and potentially other weekly amounts in the UC calculation, should be amended.

    Legislation will take some time to pass and for the DWP to implement changes to the UC system.

    What do tenants do in the meantime? Risk being evicted for non payment of rent? Having to find the additional weeks rent is going to put any tenant into financial difficulty.

    I can't post links at the moment.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Posts: 17,356Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    edited December 2019
    Hi,


    However, as you correctly stated changes can't be made without changing the UC legislation and this always takes quite some time.

    Maybe offering to pay a little extra each month to your landlord, which will reduce your rent arrears although i totally understand that this may not be possible for some people.

    You could also apply for a discretionary housing payment from your local council (not DWP) to help pay for that extra week shortfall. See link regarding the DHP https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/claiming-discretionary-housing-payments/claiming-discretionary-housing-payments


    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • androgynousandrogynous Posts: 25Member Connected
    Thanks poppy.

    Yes  I know, thanks.

    I'm going to investigate the DHP route, but you have to be careful as you can't apply for a DHP to pay rent arrears. You have to apply for a DHP to cover the shortfall in rent?
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Posts: 17,356Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    edited December 2019
    You can definitely receive a DHP for rent arrears, especially if the arrears were not your fault.
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 1,238Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    @androgynous chances of eviction for 1 weeks rent arrears is unlikely, however as mentioned you can apply for DHP, but I would recommend you speak to your landlord. 

    Not sure why the DWP spokesperson has said tenants would be 5 days in advance after the first payment in April as this is not true and the DWP is well aware of this.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • androgynousandrogynous Posts: 25Member Connected
    @ poppy123456 and Geoark. Thanks for your replies.

    My rent account is always in arrears due to UC being paid in arrears, however I've never missed a monthly payment. Now the 5th payment seems to have caused the problem, if you see what I mean. I've spoken to my landlord and they want me to start making payment.

    There's very little relevant information available. The DWP and social landlords both say different things.

    I know you should always make paying your rent a priority but this leaves very little time to get advice especially at this time of the year.

    I will apply for a DHP this week and I'll let you know the outcome. It seems the only way to go, for now.


  • poppy123456poppy123456 Posts: 17,356Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    Arrears on rent will always be an issue, it's the same for someone that claims housing benefit. It's because landlords ask for rent in advance and benefits are always paid in arrears, which causes issues.

    When i rented from a social landlord some years ago i had to pay 2 weeks rent in advance to cover future arrears.

    Regarding the DHP, you'll need to contact your local council to ask for a form. Be warned they are complex so getting some help to fill them out will be extremely useful. When i applied for a DHP some years ago, a representative came out from my local council to help fill out the form.
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 2,687Member Pioneering
    androgynous,
    I don't have much to add to the excellent advice you have been given. The way UC calculates the housing element is going to cause a shortfall in any year (because it looks at weeks rather than days in year when converting to a monthly amount). It's even worse this year, because February has 29 days. So whilst there is an argument for saying the 53 week year gets sorted later in the year, there's still an issue which means there's a shortfall over time, and it's worse in years like this one, with a leap month.

    The DWP are aware of this, and the government are looking at it (see this report, pages 12-13). It wouldn't do any harm to write to your MP however, as we need to make sure they do act on the various things which had already been raised before the election. 

    I agree with Poppy that it is worth asking for a DHP. They can be paid for any one who requires financial assistance in addition to their benefits in order to meet housing costs - and because your UC housing element isn't going to be as much as your rental liability, even once things 'catch up', you meet the criteria. They are discretionary payments though (meaning your local authority could say no), which means that getting help to fill in the form if you can, is a good idea.

    As to where you stand legally, I'm not a housing adviser, but you are liable to pay your rent according to your tenancy agreement, when it becomes due. Unfortunately, however UC is calculated makes no difference to that.

    We do need to get the law on the calculation of UC housing element changed sooner rather than later so do think about getting in touch with your MP if you feel able to.

    Will






    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
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    Will Hadwen
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  • androgynousandrogynous Posts: 25Member Connected
    Hi,


    However, as you correctly stated changes can't be made without changing the UC legislation and this always takes quite some time.

    Maybe offering to pay a little extra each month to your landlord, which will reduce your rent arrears although i totally understand that this may not be possible for some people.

    You could also apply for a discretionary housing payment from your local council (not DWP) to help pay for that extra week shortfall. See link regarding the DHP https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/claiming-discretionary-housing-payments/claiming-discretionary-housing-payments


    @poppy123456

    Hi,

    I'm not sure of the relevance of the link you've given to the PIP assessment guide, with UC and social rents?

    I've had a look through anyway.
  • androgynousandrogynous Posts: 25Member Connected
    edited December 2019
    androgynous,
    I don't have much to add to the excellent advice you have been given. The way UC calculates the housing element is going to cause a shortfall in any year (because it looks at weeks rather than days in year when converting to a monthly amount). It's even worse this year, because February has 29 days. So whilst there is an argument for saying the 53 week year gets sorted later in the year, there's still an issue which means there's a shortfall over time, and it's worse in years like this one, with a leap month.

    The DWP are aware of this, and the government are looking at it (see this report, pages 12-13). It wouldn't do any harm to write to your MP however, as we need to make sure they do act on the various things which had already been raised before the election. 

    I agree with Poppy that it is worth asking for a DHP. They can be paid for any one who requires financial assistance in addition to their benefits in order to meet housing costs - and because your UC housing element isn't going to be as much as your rental liability, even once things 'catch up', you meet the criteria. They are discretionary payments though (meaning your local authority could say no), which means that getting help to fill in the form if you can, is a good idea.

    As to where you stand legally, I'm not a housing adviser, but you are liable to pay your rent according to your tenancy agreement, when it becomes due. Unfortunately, however UC is calculated makes no difference to that.

    We do need to get the law on the calculation of UC housing element changed sooner rather than later so do think about getting in touch with your MP if you feel able to.

    Will


    I'm finding this site very difficult to use so please excuse any mistakes.

    Thanks Will.

    I can post some links now although nothing has been updated since initial concerns?

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-landlord-engagement-newsletters/february-2019-universal-credit-landlord-engagement-newsletter       (Section 3.5)


    https://www.housing.org.uk/latest-updates/53-week-rent-year-what-this-means-for-universal-credit-payments/

    https://www.sfha.co.uk/news/news-category/sfha-news/news-article/dwp-recognises-problem-with-53-rent-payment-days

    https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/52656/universal-credit-53-week-year-201920

    In the last link, it's notable in the early days motion in the House of Commons, there were no Tory candidates supported that motion? and many of those candidates in favour of the motion lost their seat in the general election just gone.

    The DWP says not one person will be worse off. Here's one.

    My MP i know, is a waste of time. They are a firm believer in UC and won't support you with any complaints about UC. I know, I've tried.

    But i do have another course of action and that's the only way to get any recourse against the DWP. I already have an ongoing legal challenge against the DWP and i'm not averse to taking on another challenge if i have to. I partially won round one, I'll definitely win round two, and i'd probably win round three? My solicitor wouldn't take it on if they didn't think they would win. But all this takes time and in the meantime i'll have to get support with a DHP. I shall seek legal advice in due course, (when they are back at work)!

    Just when i thought i might finally have a relatively peaceful year, I'm now about to enter my third consecutive year of battles against the DWP. What would life be like without the DWP in my life? Ruling my life. Ruining my life. Defining my life. It all has an impact on my health.

    How i wish i wasn't 'disabled' and yes, my disabilities now define me. I am a disability not a person.

    Wish me luck and thanks for the info.

  • poppy123456poppy123456 Posts: 17,356Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    Hi,


    However, as you correctly stated changes can't be made without changing the UC legislation and this always takes quite some time.

    Maybe offering to pay a little extra each month to your landlord, which will reduce your rent arrears although i totally understand that this may not be possible for some people.

    You could also apply for a discretionary housing payment from your local council (not DWP) to help pay for that extra week shortfall. See link regarding the DHP https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/claiming-discretionary-housing-payments/claiming-discretionary-housing-payments


    @poppy123456

    Hi,

    I'm not sure of the relevance of the link you've given to the PIP assessment guide, with UC and social rents?

    I've had a look through anyway.

    Oops, sorry about that, i obviously posted the wrong link. I most likely had that up on my browser from posting the link on another part of the forum. As a community champion here on scope i advise hundreds of people and sometimes it's vert difficult to keep up. Not sure now though what link i was going to post :(
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • androgynousandrogynous Posts: 25Member Connected
    edited January 2
    woodbine said:
    Don't most social landlords e.g councils give tenants 2 rent "free" weeks every year? I know that they used to.
    @woodbine

    Not every social landlord gives tenants 2 rent free weeks every year.

    It doesn't make any difference, in any case. Even if you have 2 rent free weeks you will still have to pay 51 weeks rent, under this UC conundrum.

    Just something to be aware of for those migrating from ESA to UC. The next time this occurs is 2024. I don't expect the DWP to do anything about this of their own free will. I recommend to start saving, now.

    My immediate concern is to find that weeks rent from somewhere. Another year, another battle. Maybe one day I'll win the war?

    What doesn't kill you makes you stronger?
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