The Government has made some changes to the housing cost element of Universal Credit (this is the new benefit replacing Housing Benefit) for those aged between 18 and 21 years (inclusive).
If you are classed as a “job seeker” within this age range, and apply for Universal Credit in a full digital service area, you may no longer be able to claim the housing cost element to cover your rent. The standard allowance of Universal Credit remains unaffected and is £251.77 per month (amount correct as at April 2017).
There are a number of circumstances which may mean you are exempt from this change, including if you are:
- currently in receipt of Housing Benefit or have a continuous claim when changing from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit (any break for any period during a changeover will mean the new rules apply).
- currently in receipt of the housing cost element of Universal Credit but do not live in a full digital service area or have a continuous claim when your area adopts the new full digital service scheme (any break for any period during a changeover will mean the new rules apply).
- currently in receipt of the housing cost element of Universal Credit in a full digital service area but your entitlement started before 1st April 2017. Any break after this date will mean the new rules apply.
- unable to live with parents because:
- you do not have any parents.
- both your parents live abroad.
- living in your parental home could lead to a serious risk to your physical or mental health or you would suffer significant harm.
- responsible for a child or young person.
- a care leaver before reaching the age of 18.
- in receipt of the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or higher rate.
- in receipt of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment.
- special arrangements or conditions in place to manage the risks you may pose as an offender.
- living in temporary accommodation provided by a local authority.
- subject to or threatened with domestic violence by your partner, former partner or a family member.
- not expected to be able to work for a minimum of 35 hours a week due to caring responsibilities, disability, bereavement, addictions or sickness (additional conditions must be met).
- entitled to Universal Credit but your net earnings do not exceed the monthly amount that is equal to working 16 hours per week at the current national minimum wage.
- entitled to Universal Credit and on an apprenticeship and your net earnings do not exceed the monthly amount that is equal to working 16 hours per week at the current national minimum wage of apprentices.
There is also one time limited protection in place for the changes. If you were working immediately prior to the start of your claim for Universal Credit and were working and earning as detailed in points “13” and “14” above, then you will have protection from the change for up to six months and therefore may be able to claim the housing cost element of Universal Credit.
Get in touch with the DWP if you would like further information about the changes.