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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)
TheOriginalNutcracker Tue 26-Feb-13 13:20:52

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 ??

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.

NorthernLurker Thu 28-Feb-13 12:43:39

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?

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