Universal Credit: Alternative Payment Arrangements explained as ‘broken system’ emerges
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Universal Credit claimants can apply for Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA) which can help those facing financial difficulties or are behind on their rent. Landlords can also apply for this support.
Depending on the claimant’s circumstances, a range of options may be available.
APAs can allow claimants to have their rent paid directly to their landlord.
They can also allow claimants to be paid more frequently than once a month or recieve split payments if they’re part of a couple. To apply for APAs, claimants will need to speak with their work coach.
Claimants can also apply for Budgeting Advances where they face emergency household costs such as replacing a broken cooker.
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How much a person can borrow through Budgeting Advances will depend on their circumstances, but the smallest amount a person could receive is £100.
Single claimants can get up to £348. Those in couples could get £464 and those with children can get £812.
These advances will be repaid through regular Universal Credit payments which will be lower until the debt is paid back.
Many Britons may need this support now more than ever as new research from Shelter showed the number of people living in temporary accommodation in England is rising, with women being hit particularly hard by “England’s broken housing system”.
In the past decade, the number of homeless women living in temporary accommodation has almost doubled from 40,030 in 2011 to 75,410 today, a rise of 88 percent.
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Shelter surveyed Britons on the “dramatic impact” of affordability issues and the results showed that of those with housing costs, women are 36 percent more likely than men to be in arrears or constantly struggling to afford these costs, equating to 4.7 million women.
Lone mothers face the most acute affordability issues, with almost one in three in arrears or constantly struggling to keep a roof over their heads and 69 percent of women who rent privately worry they wouldn’t be able to afford anywhere decent to live if their relationship broke down.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, commented: “Women are bearing the brunt of our escalating housing crisis, and they are being failed at every turn. No mother should have to choose between buying food or paying her rent. No woman should have to stay with her abuser or face the streets.
“The hike in living costs and cuts to Universal Credit mean it’s only going to get tougher for thousands of women barely hanging on to their homes. It’s appalling women are being fobbed off by professionals who are supposed to help them, and it’s no wonder they feel scared and alone.
“If we’re going to turn back the tide on women’s homelessness, we need to listen to women and better understand their needs. For the women who feel like there’s nowhere to turn, Shelter is here. Our emergency helpline is open 365 days a year so no one has to face homelessness alone.”
It should be noted Universal Credit is not the only benefit available to Britons which can help with housing costs.
For those living in supported, sheltered or temporary housing, Universal Credit can only be claimed if they are not getting “care, support or supervision” through their housing.
Additionally, they will not be able to get Universal Credit to help with housing costs if they’re living in supported or sheltered housing (such as a hostel) which provides them with “care, support or supervision”, they’re living in temporary accommodation, such as a B&B arranged by their council or they’re living in a refuge for survivors of domestic abuse.
Britons in these circumstances can instead apply for Housing Benefit.
Housing Benefit can help people pay their rent if they’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits.
Claimants may get help with all or part of their rent. There’s no set amount of Housing Benefit and what they get will depend on whether they rent privately or from a council.
To apply for Housing Benefit, claimants can contact their local council. Additionally, claims can be made as part of a Pension Credit application.
Where Housing Benefit doesn’t cover all of the claimants rent, they may be able to also receive Discretionary Housing Payments from their local authority.
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