Many residents can receive financial support towards paying their rental charge by claiming either Housing Entitlement via Universal Credit or Housing Benefit from their local council. Eligibility to these financial supports is accessible via a means tested benefit application, which is intended to support people in receipt of a low income and have low savings.
This financial support can also cover part or all of a service charge, but water, heating and lighting charges to individual accommodation are excluded and would be the responsibility of the resident to cover.
For most working-aged residents who are considering applying for financial support for housing costs, they would need to apply for Housing Entitlement via Universal Credit. The benefits system is changing the way this financial support is provided and soon most working-aged residents, who are in receipt of Housing Benefit will be invited to apply for Universal Credit. This invitation will be provided by a migration notice from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). For further information about this process, please see our webpage on this topic and further guidance.
At Orwell Housing, we have team members available to support anyone with the necessary forms and provide guidance on completing this process.
Depending upon eligibility for this financial support and where you live, it can take several weeks to be processed and may take some time before the first payment is made to you. We encourage all residents to ensure they are making the right choice for their circumstances and to apply, when possible, with accurate information and supply any evidence requested.
Paying the rental charge for your home is the responsibility of the resident. If a resident has received financial support to help cover this charge, they must ensure any changes in their circumstances are updated on their claim. This will help avoid any delays to their financial support being issued. In addition, it is helpful to notify your Housing Officer or Scheme Manager of this, to make them aware of any potential changes in your support or payment plan.
Below we have included further information, guidance and support avenues to assist with the right financial support available for your circumstances.
If you have any further questions or you would like to speak to someone regarding any of the information, please fill out our contact form at the bottom of the page.
Housing Costs Help
Further help and advice with housing costs is available for the following agencies. Click the logos to be taken to the relevant website:
Citizens Advice help people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, independent and confidential advice.
The best place to find government services and information.
Shelter provides free, confidential advice to people with all kinds of housing problems.
Universal Credit is a new benefit that is being rolled out across the country. It is for people of working age and replaces:
- Housing benefit.
- Jobseekers allowance (income-based).
- Employment and support allowance (income-related).
- Income support.
- Child and working tax credits.
Who can claim universal credit
You can claim Universal Credit if you need help with living and housing cost.
You must be of working age but it doesn't matter if you're in work or not working.
Universal Credit has successfully rolled out across all job centres across the country.
If you are already claiming one of the benefits it includes, unless you have a change of circumstances, you are likely to be transferred onto Universal Credit between 2019 and 2024.
Who can't claim
You can't claim Universal Credit if you:
- Have £16,000 or more in savings.
- Are excluded from benefits because of your immigration status.
- Are under 18 (with below exceptions).
How to claim universal credit
You have to make an online claim for universal credit.
It should take 20 to 40 minutes.
You will need to ensure you have certain items to hand.
- your email address
- bank details
- national insurance number
- proof of identity
- household income and savings
- childcare costs
Please be advised you will need to create a Login, Password and 3 Security Answers which you will need to use at a later stage.
If you need help, call the universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 or you could contact the Citizens Advice - Help to Claim service who will be able to assist you with making your claim.
Their contact details are:
- National Helpline: 0800 144 8 444
What happens next?
You usually have to make an appointment at your local Jobcentre Plus within 7 days of making an online claim. You must attend the appointment to complete your claim.
To book this appointment you will need to contact Universal Credit Full Service on 0800 382 5644.
If you are struggling during this waiting period, you can ask for an advance payment for up to 1 month’s expected entitlement amount, which you will need to pay back over the next 24 months.
When will I receive my payments?
You will receive your first payment after 5 weeks if you are assessed as eligible and then monthly just like a salary. It is paid in arrears on the same date every month, unless your payment date falls on a weekend or bank holiday, when you may receive it early.
Housing costs and Universal Credit
When you apply for Universal Credit your housing costs will be included. You do not have to make a separate claim.
The costs will be included in the monthly payment made directly to you and it is your responsibility to ensure that this is paid to your landlord. Depending on how much you earn, you may not get the full costs, so it is important that you ensure that the remainder of your rent is paid in full from your earnings.
If you feel that this is going to be problematic for you, discuss it with the job centre or Orwell. In some circumstances, it can be arranged to have the housing costs paid directly.
All Universal Credit claimants in Orwell areas, are eligible for local budgeting advice from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, who are trained particularly for universal credit.
If you are finding it hard, talk to your housing officer or contact our Welfare Reform Officer Danielle Porter on 01473 228652.
Benefit cap under Universal Credit
The benefit cap limits the total amount of benefits that families who are out of work, can receive...
If you're affected, your monthly Universal Credit payment is reduced to the cap level.
Benefit cap outside London
These limits apply if you don't live in a London borough:
- £423 per week for a couple or family with dependent children
- £284 per week for a single person without children
The benefits that are also included in the cap are as follows:
- Housing benefit (unless you live in supported housing).
- Income support (IS).
- Jobseeker's allowance (JSA).
- Employment and support allowance (ESA) (unless you are in the support group).
- Incapacity benefit.
- Child benefit and child tax credits.
- Guardian's allowance.
- Carer's allowance.
- Maternity benefits and widows benefits paid by the Department for Work and Pensions.
- Severe disablement allowance.
- Universal Credit.
Some people will not be affected because they are claiming from the list overleaf:
You will not be affected if you are claiming:
- Working tax credits.
- Disability living allowance or the personal independence payment.
- Attendance allowance.
- Support component of employment and support allowance.
- Industrial injuries benefits.
- War widows’ pension.
- War widowers’ pension.
Benefits not included in the cap these benefits and payments don't count towards the cap:
- Discretionary housing payments.
- Council tax support/reduction.
- Budgeting loan/advances.
- One-off council crisis payments.
- Free school meals.
- Child maintenance payments.
- Winter fuel payments.
- Statutory maternity, paternity or adoption pay.
- Statutory sick pay.
- Housing Benefits for supported accommodation.
If you are in receipt of working tax credits for at least 12 months but then lose your job or reduce your hours the benefit cap won't apply for a 9-month 'grace period'.
If you are a single parent and the cost of childcare is proving a worry, the government have doubled the number of free childcare hours a week, to 30 for all 3 and 4 year olds and some 2 year olds.
Discretionary Housing Payments
If you are still having difficulty paying your rent due to a genuine difficulty, you can apply to your local authority for a Discretionary Housing Payment. And there is local budgeting support.
Help with Housing Costs - East Suffolk - This downloads a PDF document - 0.5Mb
Universal Credit Support - East Suffolk - This downloads a PDF document - 0.2Mb
Universal Credit Support - West Suffolk - This downloads a PDF document - 0.1Mb
These services are available from all local authorities. Please go to your own for advice.
If you need help with any of this, please use our contact form and we will contact you with the help you need.