Universal Credit housing support rules explained as ‘eviction notices drop on doormats’

Martin Lewis: 500,000 more people now eligible for Universal Credit

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Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) can be claimed by those on Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit who need financial support with their housing costs. DHP funding is available in England and Wales, with slightly different rules for those based in Scotland.

DHP funding can help people with housing costs, including those affected by the benefit cap, the removal of the spare room subsidy in the social rented sector or Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates.

DHP may be awarded to cover the costs of a rent shortfall, rent deposits or rent in advance if the claimant needs to move home.

To apply for DWP, claimants will need to contact their local authority. Each council decides how their application process will work.

Councils will also decide whether DHP can be awarded, how much will be paid out and how long the claimant will receive the payments.

This support could prove to be crucial over the coming weeks as new research from Shelter estimated 200,000 children living in privately rented homes are at risk of being evicted this winter – equivalent to one in every 50 children in England.  

Extensive polling from the charity found  that 104,000 private renting families had received an eviction notice in the last month or are currently behind on their rent – putting them in real danger of losing their home. 

In response to these results, Shelter called on the public to support its frontline advisers “who are working seven days a week” to help as many families as possible to find, or keep hold of, a safe home.    

Shelter estimated  55,000 children, along with their families, have already been evicted or removed from their homes in the last three months. 

The charity warned: “With the eviction ban now over and the £65million fund for rent arrears not enough to reach everyone struggling, Shelter is concerned even more eviction notices will start rolling in as living costs rise and debts mount for many.”

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The fear of  becoming homeless is looming large over family life, with  Shelter’s research also showing seven in 10 private renting families (71 percent) would struggle to find another home this winter if they lost theirs.    

Additionally, one  in five renting parents (21 percent) said their children know they are struggling to pay rent and one in 10 parents (11 percent) said their children worry about becoming homeless.  

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, commented: “No child should have to worry about losing their home this Christmas, let alone 200,000. 

“But so many families will spend every day with the threat of eviction looming over them, not knowing if they will still have a home next year. 

“Eviction notices have started dropping on doormats and our services are working round the clock to help families who have nowhere else to go. Like it has before – the Government needs to intervene to keep people safe in their homes.

“We urgently need more support for renters to protect them from eviction this winter. 

“Thousands of families are teetering on a cliff edge. 

“It’s only with the public’s support that we’ll be able to keep answering calls and help as many of them as possible keep the bailiffs at bay.”

It should be noted the Government has launched a £500million support fund for vulnerable households to help with the winter. These funds will be administered by local councils and will help struggling families cover essential costs over the coming weeks.

Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, commented on the support: “Over the last year, we have helped millions of people provide for their families. Many are now back on their feet but we know that some may still need further support.

“Our targeted Household Support Fund is here to help those vulnerable households with essential costs as we push through the last stages of our recovery from the pandemic.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak also said: “Everyone should be able to afford the essentials, and we are committed to ensuring that is the case.

“Our new Household Support Fund will provide a lifeline for those at risk of struggling to keep up with their bills over the winter, adding to the support the Government is already providing to help people with the cost of living.”

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