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Just had a letter from my HA about the housing benefit changes. Some people are gonna be in the shit. It's madness

(73 Posts)

This is what the letter said

'Universal credit will be paid in arrears as a single monthly payment, meaning there will be a five week gap in receiving your benefits when you move over to Universal Credit. Therefore we strongly advise all of our customers to over pay their rent by a small amount each month. This means that when you switch to universal credit you will be prepared for the 5 week gap in receiving your universal credit and your rent account won't fall into arrears. '

So basically then, people will be in arrears right from the off unless they can over pay beforehand. A lot of people I know, won't be able to afford to overpay.

Also whilst we are on the subject, can I just ask, if tax credits is going to be paid with the HB as one big payment ?? What about child benefit ??

Jellykat Tue 26-Feb-13 20:17:43

No! That's ridiculous!
FFS Who on Tax Credits/ HB or any other benefit can afford to live on nothing for 5 weeks?? It's a very sick joke surely?

(As far as i'm aware all benefits will be paid at the same time..)

I think the powers that be don't care if poor people have nothing to live on tbh.

noisytoys Thu 28-Feb-13 08:02:00

Thanks for giving us a heads up. I will save the pennies, not that they will go very far sad

lubeybooby Thu 28-Feb-13 08:04:01

what the actual....fuuuuuuuu...

oh god that is horrible.

When is it being rolled out near you OP?

A 5 week gap? Thats terrible. Am I right in thinking that some people receive benefits weekly and will therefore go from that to zero for 5 weeks before receiving anything? How are those people expected to live?
I can't imagine how difficult this must be for people receiving most or all of their income through benefits.

Its fucking nutso, isn't it.

Its not even like you could manage if you budgeted carefully or ate lentils or whatever some condescending twats will no doubt suggest. A week's benefits is hardly enough for a week - there is simply no way it could stretch to cover a 5 weeks gap.


dearcathyandclare Thu 28-Feb-13 08:12:07

Apparently Ian Duncan Smith thinks it will encourage the poor to learn to budget better, encouraging them to take up all those fabulous well paid and secure jobs out there.

Yeah well IDS is frankly a great big ignorant dick, isn't he.

Budgeting is all well and good but you can only stretch money so far.

I've got a single parent friend, she gets £130 every week plus housing benefit. Someone please tell me how exactly she is meant to make that £130 last for 5 weeks ??

Guidance here on 'alternative payment arrangements' . It's quite clear that these will be very exceptional.

Are they actually trying to drive people to despair? I think IDS really does think that most benefit claimants could go and get a job tomorrow doesn't he? I work with a chronically ill population, many of whom receive benefits. They CANNOT work. What are we supposed to do when they start to starve? angry

dearcathyandclare Thu 28-Feb-13 08:22:25

Queen my thoughts entirely. I work with chronically unwell people too and am dreading the impact of these reforms.

Meglet Thu 28-Feb-13 08:26:16

5 weeks?!! The Condems really don't have a clue do they angry. It won't affect me but I feel sorry for everyone they're about to screw over.

lubeybooby Thu 28-Feb-13 09:01:26

So this is going to apply to anyone receiving tax credits too isn't it when they get switched over.

it will potentially be a big problem even for working households if they depend on WTC and CTC.

are there any definitive guides about when it's all happening?

Snazzynewyear Thu 28-Feb-13 09:08:13

Ridiculous to expect people on benefits to be able to save ahead for 5 weeks' worth of outgoings. What's going to happen when people can't feed their kids 2 weeks in? angry

BenjaminButton172 Thu 28-Feb-13 09:19:44

I am good at budgetting but even i couldnt make my last benefit payment last 5 weeks.

Universal credit will include hb, ctc, wtc. Child benefit will be paid seperately.

ivykaty44 Thu 28-Feb-13 09:26:23

IDS has been told that making payments monthly or every four weeks will effect and harm people - he just ignore the advice and carries on blithely. Even Frank Field has backed of from IDS universal credit

IDS should perhaps concentrate on George Osborne budgeting which is not wonderful....

aufaniae Thu 28-Feb-13 10:16:18

This is insanity.

The only good thing about it is that people will hopefully realise upfront just how ill thought out this all is and vote the fuckers out.

aufaniae Thu 28-Feb-13 10:53:33

I predict a riot ...

When they tried to bring in the poll-tax, senior civil servants warned them it wasn't workable in the format they were pushing through. They didn't listen.

It's obvious they haven't learnt a thing.

Sometimes I find myself wondering if the Tories are actually evil or just totally incompetent. I'm erring towards totally incompetent today.

lougle Thu 28-Feb-13 11:10:59


This is madness. People will get into debt who have managed to budget well until this point.

I agree. And the list of people that the housing benefit spare room thing will affect just keeps growing. I'm up to:

Recently bereaved families
Families with a disabled member whose medical condition requires equipment and/or a seperate room because of very disturbed sleep. This includes patients on home dialysis who use a seperate room for their home treatment instead of medicalising their bedroom which may be shared with a partner.
Anybody who has a medical condition which disturbs their sleep so that a couple (for example) would sleep in seperate rooms.
Any family with somebody serving in the armed forces who nevertheless has only the family home as their 'home'
Foster parents who have a room only periodically occupied.

Have I missed anybody? Should I apply for a job with the government? grin

There will be riots. Which is why they are rolling it out bit by bit across the country I think

lougle Thu 28-Feb-13 11:23:29

Hybrid families where step-children stay half the week.

lougle Thu 28-Feb-13 11:25:56

Couples where one member is over pension credit age but the other is not.

sleepyhead Thu 28-Feb-13 11:29:35

It's going to be a bumper time for loan sharks hmm

I suspect a lot of people will have to "budget" by borrowing at extortionate rates, and will never catch up.

Wonder how much interest that cash will earn for them in that 5w

BenjaminButton172 Thu 28-Feb-13 12:09:24

At the moment unemployment benefits are paid a week or two behind. Is this going to be the same for Universal Credit.

For example the first month you would only get a fortnights worth of money rather than a months and then the next month you would get a full months.

aufaniae Thu 28-Feb-13 12:20:55

Benjamin that would make sense, yes.

However assuming that this government will do what makes sense is a dangerous path to take!

From the letter the OP has received it looks like they are doing the opposite.

aufaniae Thu 28-Feb-13 12:23:24

"Universal Credit will be paid in arrears as a single monthly payment, aiming to replicate the experience of most people in work, meaning there will be a 5 week gap in receiving your benefits which you need to prepare for."

Midland Heart Housing Association

ivykaty44 Thu 28-Feb-13 12:33:48

Sometimes I find myself wondering if the Tories are actually evil or just totally incompetent. I'm erring towards totally incompetent today


I will be using this one

BenjaminButton172 Thu 28-Feb-13 12:37:23

What the government should do is leave it alone.

They are also changing the way Housing Benefit is paid. HB usually gets paid straight to the landlord. (Not sure about private tenants) but now they are paying the rent to the tenant. How are they going to deal with those who chose not to pay their rent or fall behind because your child needs new school shoes and you decide to rather buy the shoes rather than pay their rent because they have the money there.

The link I posted below sort of answers that Benjamin. In particular circumstances they will pay part of the credit direct but this is going to be exceptional and prioritising say shoes over rent will be viewed as your problem not theirs.

aufaniae Thu 28-Feb-13 12:50:29

Shelter seems to think it'll be OK.

"How will Universal Credit be paid?
In general, UC will be paid in one monthly instalment, in arrears and into a bank
account. Where a household is making a claim, one member of the household will usually receive the whole UC payment, though there are likely to be exceptions. As people transfer onto UC, there will be the facility for advance payments so that claimants don’t see any gap in their payments."

However worth mentioning that Shelter published that in October. The OP's Housing Associations has only just sent its letters out so possible acting on more recent info.

Shelter doc here

One of the (many) problems with all this is the lack of reliable information coming out from the government on the detail of UC. Where money is involved the devil is in the detail, and it seems much of the detail hasn't even been fleshed out yet.

How are people and organisations such as Housing Associations (among many others which will be affected) supposed to plan?

JengaBlock Thu 28-Feb-13 12:50:53

Is there a schedule somewhere showing what area rolls over and when?

aufaniae Thu 28-Feb-13 12:52:20

Oops, not Shelter, that should have said Crisis!

littlemisssarcastic Thu 28-Feb-13 12:53:51

So people who are already living hand to mouth are going to have to survive on no govt top ups for 5 weeks? shock

What about people who are unfortunate enough to be relying solely on benefits when the change over happens?
What are they expected to do?
I would hope that landlords would show some understanding and wait for 5 weeks if they can, but what about money for food, electric/gas, direct debits that need paying for those 5 weeks? Seriously?

aufaniae Thu 28-Feb-13 12:55:44

The Crisis doc also says

"Will you be able to claim in advance?

Advance claims will no longer be possible under UC, with the exception of those who are leaving prison. The current provision for hostel residents moving on into new accommodation will not continue. "

So if I understand correctly, this will make it harder for people to move out of hostels, which are expensive and not the best environment for families.

So, it will cost the tax payer (i.e. all of us) more, while making things more difficult for people already in difficult circumstances. Is this the yardstick for all Tory policies these days?

stormforce10 Thu 28-Feb-13 15:39:30

There's a statement here on the DWP website that says

we will also offer an advance to people who need it when they move onto Universal Credit, so they don’t see any gap in their payments when they move from a fortnightly to monthly system. We expect the advance to be made at the two week point to bridge the gap.

If that is the case surely things won't be as bad as suggested above though I still forsee problems when people face the first full month without a payment

aufaniae Thu 28-Feb-13 15:59:18

I found a broken link in the UC section on the Midland Heart Housing Association website and used that as an excuse to call them. (As I'm not one of their tenants I would have felt a bit cheeky just phoning them cold!)

I spoke to a very nice woman who thanked me for pointing out the error on their site. I asked her about the 5 weeks thing, and mentioned the Crisis doc.

She said that the 5 weeks is the advice they've been given (I'm not sure who by). It's what they're basing their planning on, and they are advising all their tenants to overpay so as not to be in arrears. (I wonder if they're the same HA as the OP?). She's aware of a put of money for hardship which every council has and can distribute as they see fit, but that isn't going to cover everyone. She hadn't heard about an advance to everyone as standard, it hasn't been mentioned in any of their meetings. She was curious to hear about it though and asked for the link, I imagine she's gone off to have a look at it!

NC78 Thu 28-Feb-13 16:06:08

WTAF shock

What area are you in op?

aufaniae Thu 28-Feb-13 16:09:34

I'm very suspicious of any government reassurances along the lines of "we will also offer an advance to people who need it when they move onto Universal Credit, so they don’t see any gap in their payments"

They said no one would be worse of under UC. But the reality is that's simply not true. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates 2.8 million will be worse off under UC, for example.

The Chartered Institute of Housing estimate that the poorest 400,000 families will be worse off "despite ministerial assurances that no one would lose out under its plans ...

The report says households that earn £247 or less a week will see a fall in real income in 2015, and lone parents with up to three children will always be worse off if universal credit remains in its current form.

According to Sam Lister, head of policy at the institute: "All those on minimum wage and officially in poverty lose out. Also all lone parents – it does not matter what they earn: lone parents across the piece lose out under the current form of universal credit. We want the government to rethink the measures." (From this article

FairyJen Thu 28-Feb-13 16:09:43

So what areas are being rolled out and in what order??

When is their going to be a demonstration btw because chatting on here is fine but nothin will happen unless people rally to stop this and from the sounds of it they need to do this fast!

aufaniae Thu 28-Feb-13 16:21:18

There should be a demonstration on right now in Brighton!

There's a week of action against workfare 18-24 March, find out more about it on this website and on the Boycott Workfare Facebook page

TheCrackFox Thu 28-Feb-13 16:28:30

This is going to be a massive shit storm.

gaelicsheep Fri 01-Mar-13 01:33:41

We earn a reasonable income and right now we could not last 5 weeks without money coming in. Crap but true, not without getting into debt anyway. This is madness. Why is it being paid in arrears in any case? Why not in advance? It makes no difference after the first month, they are being cruel just for the hell of it. angry

Darkesteyes Fri 01-Mar-13 01:43:26

lougleThu 28-Feb-13 11:25:56

Couples where one member is over pension credit age but the other is not.

This is me and DH. him 63 this year me 40. We dont get wtc or ctc and no children. We have a one bedroom flat and he sleeps in the living room.
We do recieve HB.. I might contact Age UK and ask them for advice. We would come under their remit because DH is over 60.

Darkesteyes Fri 01-Mar-13 01:49:16

How is ANYONE affected by this going to manage. its NUTS. Like the twonk that dreamt it up!

Darkesteyes Fri 01-Mar-13 02:00:20

I know they are asking people to overpay but what if you cant afford to. Are they then going to start eviction proceedings for those that cant afford to. This is going to affect lots of tenants.
Wont the HAs be cutting off their noses to spite their faces by evicting them all? and even if they find another tenant for said flat that tenant will have to apply for UC so the HAs will still have to wait anyway.

olgaga Fri 01-Mar-13 02:11:34

Ho hum, just wanted to point out that when I mentioned this on another thread recently I got a proper telling off. How dare I be so patronising to think people on benefits can't manage their money!

It's all very well "managing money" when you have money to manage.

I'm pleased you've posted, OP, and very sad for you and the millions of others who will soon be in your position. Some will also be having to cope with the bedroom tax and having to pay council tax too.

Same old Tories.

aufaniae Fri 01-Mar-13 02:58:55

This is also from the Crisis document:

"DWP is currently exploring access to financial products for those on low incomes and is working with providers of financial services to help people budget effectively."

Does anyone know what that means?

Is this why they've done away with Crisis Loans - so they can bring a private "partner" in to provide loans to people on the breadline (making profit out of poverty).

Or am I misunderstanding that?

aufaniae Fri 01-Mar-13 03:09:57

OK, found this on the DWP website:

"*Financial products*

It was announced that DWP will explore the feasibility of making financial products with budgeting tools available to Universal Credit claimants.

Accounts that provide people with extra budgeting services could help to make sure people’s essential bills are covered – helping them to build up their credit rating and break the cycle of financial exclusion.

DWP is looking for a range of diverse providers to step forward to express an interest in developing new financial products as it works towards the introduction of Universal Credit in October 2013. "

So, financial products = loans, credit cards and other kinds of credit, doesn't it?
What is meant by "Budgeting tools"?

Are they hoping that in the 5 week gap, people will turn to loans from the private sector to survive?

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 01-Mar-13 08:24:44

"How are they going to deal with those who chose not to pay their rent "

'Choosing' not to pay rent (or mortgage etc) is a simpy a poor personal choice... not much a goverment can do about poor decision-making.

The UC is not coming in for most people until October and is being phased in for existing claimants over the subsequent six months. There are pilot schemes going on at the moment and a 'pathway' scheme starting in April. It will be understood from that experience that some won't manage the transition and I'd be very surprised if there aren't safety-nets in place. However, the emphasis of the UC is very much on personal responsibility as the default setting with intervention for the minority... not the other way around

giraffesCantDateDucks Fri 01-Mar-13 08:44:58

I work full time and I would bloody struggle if there was a sudden 5 week gap in my pay, so I have no idea how someone on a low rate like benefits is supposed to cope?

AAre they doing this to try and get people to borrow more money, owe more money and get in to debt or further debt?

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 01-Mar-13 08:48:00


It means a online budgeting tool and that's basicly a spreadsheet showing you what has to go where and when and possible restricting access to some claiments money on a day to day basis read

According to the training session one of my staff went on recently any issues would have to be mega to obtain the additional support and its short term.the intention is to not allow a variation on payment frequency unless forced to.

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 01-Mar-13 08:49:56


No they are hoping more people just won't claim.

aufaniae Fri 01-Mar-13 09:40:08

I think it's clear that the government are hoping fewer people will claim. However they do also seem very keen on creating opportunities for profit for big business. Getting rid of crisis loans and inviting the private sector to step in creates profit for big business - it doesn't help the individuals involved.

IMO it comes from the same place as the appalling idea of distributing benefits out via a card (which can only be spent in participating places - i.e. big business, not markets / very small & second hand stores etc).

"It's all very well "managing money" when you have money to manage"


There's only so far money can go, no matter how carefully you meal plan and shop around and so on.

Plain fact is that one weeks benefit payment will barely cover the essentials for that one week. There's no way it could be made to cover 5 weeks. Just no way.

stretch Fri 01-Mar-13 23:26:34

Benefits are paid at a subsistence level. So 5 weeks from just 1 payment is impossible, as is 4 and 3 weeks. People could probably, just about, cope with 2 weeks.

But of course, people on benefits should go out and work, lazy scroungers..hmm

nametakenagain Sat 02-Mar-13 11:20:55

I'm finding it difficult to believe this is real

nametakenagain Sat 02-Mar-13 11:24:29

How can people entitled to benefits afford a 5 week gap in income? And does anyone think this is an acceptable consequence of imposing other painful changes?

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 02-Mar-13 11:24:59

Child tax credit, working tax credit and housing benefit are already paid 4 in arrears. confused They are all paid 4 weeks in arrears. Does this mean the person receiving them will be paid at the normal time or will they get 2 months of money when they stop claiming?

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 02-Mar-13 11:29:53

"Housing benefit is usually paid in arrears. This means that it is paid after your rent is due. It can be paid weekly, fortnightly, every four weeks or every month, depending on how frequently you pay your rent. You have a right to be paid fortnightly if your housing benefit is £2 a week or more and it is not being paid to the landlord."

From the CAB web site.
"Tax credits are normally paid in arrears, directly into a bank, building society or Post Office card account." (From the hmrc web site)

RatherBeOnThePiste Sat 02-Mar-13 11:34:34

I volunteer at a food bank and we are having to plan for a huge increase in the numbers of folk needing support, because of changes. The gov genuinely don't care and are a bunch of wankers sad

aufaniae Sat 02-Mar-13 11:54:03

Yes, this is confusing. HB does seem to be paid in arrears already. However the OP's housing association, along with Midland Heart Housing Association (although possibly the same organisation) clearly think there's going to be a 5 week gap as they're informing all their tenants about it, and Midland Heart mention it on their website.

Do they have good reason for thinking this? I would imagine they do if they've gone to the trouble of publicising it.

What will happen in reality? I don't know! The lack of solid info about UC is part of the problem!

aufaniae Sat 02-Mar-13 11:55:38

Although, even if it's HB's paid in arrears, if many people are getting it weekly or fortnightly in arrears, and then are switched to monthly in arrears, there could be a gap there.

stretch Sat 02-Mar-13 11:59:52

I can't believe this is being rolled out next month! People have no idea what they have to plan for, how much of a hit they will take. DWP/IDS seem to have no idea either hmm

Of course, if/when people do struggle (understatement), it will be all their own fault for not planning in advance etc.. confused

For DP and I and DS we get £190 a week altogether for the 3 of us and that's ESA, CTC and CB!

Wtf are we going to do. confused

I'm honestly a bit frightened.

To those who asked, I am in birmingham, and yes my HA is Midland Heart. According to the letter I got, this will start in October.

One other point. I read on FB last night that if your smallest bedroom is less than 70sf it is not classed as a bedroom and so bedroom tax cannot be applied to it. Thats according to section 326 of the housing act.

I have no idea if it's tue or not, but thought it worth posting, just incase.

Smudging Sun 03-Mar-13 11:04:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Rockmouse Sun 03-Mar-13 21:11:13

Just ask dh who works the DWP and yes this is right, ask for crisis loan ( before these go to, which is soon) put the money aside for this gap in payments. They only pay for somethings if you need advice will update. That's his advice

lubeybooby Sun 03-Mar-13 22:10:28

but rockmouse you can't get crisis loans now, you get a voucher for a food parcel from a food bank instead.

You'd need to have had a house fire or something to stand a chance of any actual cash at the levels needed for the stopgap.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 04-Mar-13 00:13:21

lubey is right, they rarely give out crisis loans. If you're not claiming JSA or income support they won't even consider you for one.

IneedAsockamnesty Mon 04-Mar-13 00:43:22

And its only a few months before the entire crisis loan system goes full stop.its not being replaced with anything.

Rockmouse Thu 07-Mar-13 11:48:07

Crisis loans still going to the of march. And you do not have be on benfits. The key what you say it's for. Do not let them tell you not get one, you have to ask for living crisis loan, per pay gas, elec and food. In April this service will be run by the council. Really have to stand up to the people on the other end of the , they will tell anything to put you off.

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