Generally payments of Universal Credit (UC) are made calendar monthly in arrears to one member of a couple. If you are unable to manage to budget because of this the DWP can consider alternative payment arrangements. There are three types of alternative payment arrangement:
- The rent element can be paid directly to the landlord to safeguard the home
- Benefit can be paid more frequently than monthly. This would normally be fortnightly but it is possible for DWP to agree to pay more often than this.
- The payment could be split between both members of a couple eg in cases of domestic violence or if one partner is mismanaging the benefit.
Alternative payment arrangements are normally considered in the above priority order but a combination of alternative payment arrangements is also possible. Decisions on alternative payments are made by DWP and you cannot appeal against the decision that is made. They will be reviewed regularly. If you are unhappy with a decision about an alternative payment arrangement you should seek advice.
The DWP have a list of factors which they feel give you a high likely need of alternative payments:
- drug and alcohol problems
- learning disabilities
- severe debt problems
- living in temporary or supported accommodation
- current homelessness
- domestic violence or abuse
- mental health problem
- being in rent arrears or under threat of eviction or repossession
- age 16 or 17 or who have left local authority care
- families with multiple and complex needs
DWP also identify people who are less likely to need alternative payment arrangements as:
- People who have third party deductions in place
- Refugees or asylum seekers
- People who have a history of rent arrears
- People who were previously homeless or living in supported accommodation
- People who have a physical disability
- People who have just left prison or hospital
- People who are recently bereaved
- People who have problems with language skills
- Ex service men or women
- Young people who are not in education, employment or training
If you are asking for alternative payment arrangements it will help your case if you identify those factors listed above which apply to you and write in to request this. If you do not have any of these factors applying to you, you will still be considered for an alternative payment arrangement. Alternative payment arrangements can be considered at any point in your claim. If you know at the start of the claim that you will need this you could ask for this to be considered at your initial claimant commitment interview.
Payment direct to the landlord
Most of the alternative payment arrangements that are agreed are payments of the rent element directly to the landlord. The landlord can ask DWP for the payment to be made to them and this request will be granted if the rent is over two months in rent arrears. You can also ask for the rent element to be paid to your landlord when you are in two months rent arrears.