People in receipt of Housing Benefit will receive an extra two weeks’ support with their rent when they move onto Universal Credit from today to help them with the transition.
This non-recoverable extra support is worth an average £233 and is set to help around 2.3 million people when they move onto Universal Credit.
Esther McVey, Work and Pensions Secretary of State, said: “Universal Credit has been specifically designed to be simpler and provide better personalised employment support.
“It ensures all benefits get paid in one monthly payment, so you won’t be getting separate amounts from different agencies for housing or tax credits.
“However, we understand that moving onto Universal Credit can be a big change for those used to the previous benefits system – especially the monthly payment, designed to reflect the world of work.
“So this week, extra rent support is being made available to allow people to adjust from fortnightly Housing Benefit payments to monthly Universal Credit ones.”
This extra help with housing costs, worth £550m, is part of a wider £1.5bn package of improvements for people when they first move onto Universal Credit.
These include extending the repayment of advances from 6 to 12 months, and allowing people to receive 100% of their payment upfront from January 2018.
And from February 2018, the seven day waiting day period was abolished to reduce the wait for payment so no one has to wait six weeks for their first Universal Credit payment.
Universal Credit claimants will soon be able to have their temporary accommodation costs met by Housing Benefit. This will enable local authorities to recoup more money they spend on temporary accommodation directly from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which will prevent losses to them of more than £70 million in 2018 to 2019.
There will also be an extended partnership working with Citizen’s Advice, to provide more face to face support to Universal Credit claimants.
And the government will make it possible for people to apply for advances online from spring 2018, making it even easier for a claimant to access an advance if they need it.
McVey added: “Universal Credit removes the barriers which prevented people from taking up work in the past, most notably the 16 hour cut off rule and the prohibitive tax rates should someone start work.
“Instead, Universal Credit ensures it pays to take on extra hours of work, and provides additional employment support to not only help get you into a job but also progress up the career ladder.”