Good morning

The Scottish Government just yesterday announced how its variations to the national UC payment arrangements would operate.

The new arrangement, which affect both social & private tenants, became effective from 4th October 2017; can immediately affect “NEW” claims, but only where the claimant lives in an area where Universal Credit “Full Service” (UCFS) currently operates and they’re not already having their housing costs paid via an APA (Alternative Payment Arrangements).

The two options available to claimants are:

  • UC payments can be monthly or twice monthly.
  • The “housing costs element” in the Universal Credit award can be paid to themselves or to their landlord.

If the claimant chooses either or both options, the new arrangements will be applied from the 2nd Benefit Assessment Period (BAP) following their award. Those that opt for the twice monthly payments will have the first half of their UC award (including 50% of their housing costs) paid on the date they would otherwise have received their 2nd monthly payment with the next payment (the other half of their award) following roughly a fortnight later.

If the claimant doesn’t exercise either choice, the option will be removed from their online account after 60 days, but if they change their mind, the offer will be reinstated via their “online journal”. The Guidance note provides an example of how the new arrangements will operate in practice.

Tenants currently claiming UC in a Full-Service area, who made their claim prior to 4th October will be offered the new options from January 2018. As the UCFS rollout is expanded, during the next year, the options will become available to more & more claimants.

Landlords cannot make use of these options BUT can still apply for Managed Payments to Landlords (MPTL), including Third Party Deductions, either on the grounds of “vulnerability” or late or non-payment of rent.

For a full explanation of how the new arrangements will operate, examine the Scottish Government’s briefing note

If you have any queries or would like to discuss the implications of these new arrangements, please contact me or 07733 080 389

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd