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Local authority concerned that its tenants on Universal Credit are unaware of help towards rent


By Alan Hendry

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Highland Council says it is concerned that many of its tenants may be missing out on help towards their rent from Universal Credit.

This could be the case if they have not notified the Department for Work and Pensions of their annual rent increase which came into effect at the end of March.

Universal credit was designed to simplify the welfare system but its introduction has proved controversial.
Universal credit was designed to simplify the welfare system but its introduction has proved controversial.

Tenants who have not yet reported their rent increase may be facing a shortfall in the help they receive towards their rent, putting them at risk of rent arrears.

The local authority is urging all of its tenants who receive Universal Credit, and who haven’t reported their rent increase, to "act immediately" by logging on to their online journal and completing the section "Report any changes to your housing costs".

Tenants can also contact the Universal Credit service centre directly for assistance with their claim.

The council said in a statement: "If you have any concerns about paying your rent, particularly if you have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, please contact your housing officer straight away by calling 01349 886602. Our housing officers can provide you with advice and assistance if you are having any difficulties paying your rent or signpost you to the most appropriate help depending on your circumstances."

The chairman of the housing and property committee, Councillor Ben Thompson, said: “We understand that many of our tenants may have been struggling over recent months as a result of the pandemic.

"We are here to offer help and support. Some tenants may have forgotten to report their rent increase due to the timing of the lockdown restrictions being imposed.

"Our housing officers are available to assist all of our tenants with any questions or concerns they may have. For those claiming benefits, particularly those who are having to make a benefit claim for the first time, the Universal Credit system can be complex. Our staff are trained to help tenants with a wide range of tailored advice and support.

“We would advise any tenants facing financial hardship and struggling to pay their rent to contact us immediately on so that we can provide them with the support that they need.”

When logging in to their Universal Credit journal to report an increase in their rent, tenants will need to know:

  • When did your housing costs change?
  • How much is your new rent?
  • How frequent is your rent?
  • How much are your service charges?
  • How frequent is your service charge?

Tenants are advised to have their annual rent increase letter to hand when they log in.

More information is available here.



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