Alternative payment arrangements to help Universal Credit claimants

Highland Council are working with the DWP to assist vulnerable people  who need additional support.

Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Universal Credit is available to single claimants across the Highlands and also to couples and families in Inverness.   This benefit replaces a number of benefits, including housing benefit and is paid as a single monthly household payment.  This is a significant change to the way most benefits are currently paid.

The DWP’s Alternative Payment Arrangement is available to help claimants who are identified as needing additional support and involves:  

  • Paying the housing element of Universal Credit direct to the claimant’s landlord
  • Making payments on a more frequent basis than monthly  
  • Providing a split payment of an award between partners

 The claimant, their representative, their caseworker or their landlord can request an Alternative Payment Arrangement. To safeguard the claimant’s home, a landlord can notify Universal Credit of a build-up of rent arrears and request that the housing costs element of Universal Credit be paid directly to them, where a rent arrears 'trigger' has been reached.

 The Highland Council, as the only local authority in the UK, has been piloting a new application process that enables landlords to electronically submit an Alternative Payment Arrangement to support vulnerable tenants.

Benefits and Welfare Manager Sheila McKandie said: “Initial results have shown that the time taken to introduce an Alternative Payment Arrangement has greatly reduced and is therefore of benefit to both the landlord and the tenant. The pilot is continuing and may be rolled-out across the UK.”

For further information or advice contact the money advice team on 0800 090 1004.

1 Jun 2015