Good morning

We are fast approaching April when several changes occur, which will impact on your tenants’ personal benefit entitlement and housing costs. The rises will be warmly welcomed, as many of the families have been struggling to make ends meet, especially considering higher living costs, and energy bills, which rose again in January 2024.

Those of pensionable age will experience a rise of 8.5% on their state pension. Whereas “working age” tenants, receiving Universal Credit or legacy benefits, like Income Support, JSA, etc. will see an increase of 6.7%. More details on the full range of benefit uprating changes can be found here

When can tenants expect to receive the increased awards of UC personal allowances & housing costs?

This is not straightforward, especially for UC claimants, paid on a calendar monthly basis, so I’ve created an example below to illustrate.

  • Tenant A claims UC and has a benefit assessment period (BAP) running from 15th March to 14th April, normally paid 7 days later, on 21st
  • Normal rule is; when a change in circumstances occurs (e.g. child is born, starts new job, experiences a higher salary, moves address, adds a partner) the change takes effect from the first day – 15th March, so any increase/reduction in his/her award would apply from 15th March -14th April; paid 7 days later on 21st April.
  • However, for the purpose of the annual benefits uprating order, the approach is different. The increase, for example, to the tenant’s personal allowance, child additions etc., takes effect on, the first BAP, starting on or after 8th April. So, if the tenant’s BAP starts on the 8th his/her new award will cover 8th April – 7th May, with payment made on the 14th of May.
  • Whereas claimants with BAPS running from the 1st– 7th April will need to wait until the start of their next BAP before they realise the higher award. So, using the 1st as an example, that claimant’s higher award will be based on their BAP – 1st May – 30th May, paid on 7th June!

In contrast, annual rent & service charge increases, applied by Social Landlords, applying from April, should take effect using the general rule i.e. effective from the 1st date of the tenant’s BAP. Tenants should also be able to report the change via their UC journal. But, as we all know, DWP adopts a different approach for SRS landlords that have access to DWP’s “housing costs” portal. This insists on tenants completing a “to-do” – ‘Confirm your housing costs’ – once it appears on their journal. Plus, SRS landlords are expected to validate each tenant’s notification. Failure to comply with that process can often lead to the “housing costs element” not being uprated, creating rent arrears. More details on what’s expected from SRS tenant and landlords can be found here 

Most private landlords were delighted when the Chancellor confirmed the unfreezing of the LHA rates from April, after a four year wait. Because the LHA changes, are subject to the Rent Officer’s order, the example relating to Tenant A above, applies to both his personal and “housing costs element”. So, where private tenants have a BAP starting, between the 1st to 7th, they will have to wait until 7th-14th June before they receive their first payment at the higher rates. I have recommended to my private, voluntary, and charitable members, to ensure their tenants report the change in circumstances, using the UC journal’s “change in circumstances” facility, anytime after 1st April 2024.

I hope all this makes sense to you. If it doesn’t, drop me an email or phone me on 07733 080 389 and I’ll explain.


Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd