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Introduction to Universal Credit and its importance to rent collection!


Nearly 9 years since it was first introduced, Universal Credit is the main means-tested benefit in the UK, with more than 6 million recipients, many of whom are tenants. Slowly, but surely, it has replaced the “housing costs” assistance previously provided by Housing Benefit for many households. By September 2024, it’s anticipated it will replace all other means-tested benefits like Income Support, Employment Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit for all “working age” (under 66) claimants.

This course has been designed for new and/or inexperienced staff working in Councils, Housing Associations, & Co-ops. It will focus on the key areas of the scheme; how to claim; how to calculate entitlement; explain how staff can best support tenants through the process of claiming and maintaining their respective claims via online systems; and how, by doing so, landlord organisations can minimise the potential for rent arrears and the need for recovery action.

Course Programme

The course covers:

*What is Universal Credit; what does it replace; how to claim, validate identitiy, income, capital and ensure a positive outcome

*How to assist tenants make & maintain their claim; notify changes; challenge poor decisions via telephone & email, with DWP contacts

*Explain the calculation process, using worked examples of the most typical cases

*How to assess the “housing costs element”, non-dependant deductions; what happens when tenants separate, move temporarily into hospital, residential care, prison etc.

*Areas of the scheme most likely to cause difficulties; how best to communicate with Work Coaches, Account Managers and secure “explicit consent” from tenants unable to properly assist themselves;

*How to assist tenants pursue complaints & appeals in an effort to minimise rental loss and rent arrears.

The course will be delivered via Zoom, from 10 am-1pm with comfort breaks. Delegate numbers limited to around 10-12 per session, to ensure those attending get the opportunity to participate from the start. The intention is, to make the session as interactive and interesting as possble.

Who should attend?

The information should be particularly relevant to new and inexperienced staff, who engage with tenants on a regular basis or who specialise in welfare benefits, financial inclusion or money advice advice. It would also be suitable to Board & Committee members.

Bill Irvine

Bill spent 30 years in local government, holding senior positions in Social Work, Housing & Finance. He retired as Head of Housing Services (Benefits, Revenues & Advice) at one of the UK’s largest councils. In 2008 he became a Board Member of Trust HA Ltd and the SFHA and the following year set up a new consultancy business “Housing Benefit Advice & Advocacy” offering advice, training and advocacy to RSL’s and private landlords throughout the UK.

Since January 2012 he has been at the forefront of Universal Credit training for both SRS and Private Sector landlords, on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Housing, Residential Landlords Association, individual Housing Associations , Vountary and Charitible bodies, UK wide.

He now operates  publishes & distributes regular monthly updating bulletins explaining new polices, practices and caselaw, relating to Universal Credit to more than 1300 registered subscribers.