Universal Credit and coronavirus: government advice
23 Mar 2020 12:55 PM
Landlords with tenants on Universal Credit have been contacted by the government in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
A website specifically dealing with Universal Credit in light of the pandemic has now been created and can be accessed here.
It runs through what happens as regards new claims – if someone is unable to work due to coronavirus.
It also outlines new rules, preventing claimants from in-person meetings at the job centre and health assessments.
The organisation said the site will be updated as and when the situation changes.
The letter it says:
“You will no doubt be invoking your own business continuity plans to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your tenants and staff.
“Any changes or easements to UC processes will be communicated as soon as they are agreed, and we will continue to work closely with yourselves through our strategic landlord forums to address any specific issues and concerns.
“Finally, as you know this is a rapidly changing situation and we will update you as and when there are any further developments or guidance needed.”
The letter comes following the announcement that emergency legislation is being brought forward to suspend evictions from private rented accommodation and that three-month payment holidays will be available to landlords with mortgages.
What does the RLA want?
While the RLA welcomed the news about the payment holiday, it is asking for more support for landlords housing benefits tenants.
It is now calling for more drastic measures including:
- Scrapping the five-week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit. The association says if advance payments can be made immediately, there is no reason why Universal Credit payments could not as well.
- Ensuring the housing cost support through the benefits system properly reflects rent levels
- Temporarily paying the housing element of new Universal Claims claims directly to the landlords in both the social and private rented sectors to support tenants struggling to manage.
It also believes the government should give serious consideration to developing a universal basic income, ensuring tenants have the security of knowing they can pay for food, utilities and cover all or at least part of their rent.
This could be set as a proportion of average wages – such as two thirds.
The RLA has been lobbying on behalf of landlords, asking for a comprehensive package of measures from government and mortgage lenders to help landlords help tenants.
It has also put together a guide for landlords including help and advice on protecting your tenants and running your lettings in these challenging times.
RLA CEO, Ben Beadle is receiving daily briefings direct from MHCLG on the situation and will keep you updated on news affecting you, your tenants and your business via our websites and social media channels @RLA_News