Universal Credit and help with your rent

Benefits and money advice

Alert

Universal Credit is changing in Waltham Forest. These changes may affect you if:

  • you’re getting help with your rent through Housing Benefit
  • you want to apply for help with your rent
  • you’re already getting Universal Credit

This page explains whether you need to apply for Housing Benefit or for Universal Credit to get help with your rent.

Switching from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit will affect the way you need to manage your money. You can find details of available budgeting help below. 

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a government benefit from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Some of its main features include:

  • it helps people of working age with living expenses and housing costs
  • it replaces a six other benefits: Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (SA) and Working Tax Credit. These are now referred to as the ‘legacy' benefits
  • it’s paid as one monthly payment into your chosen bank account
  • you can only apply for it online
  • if your Universal Credit payment includes help with your rent, you need to pay this to your landlord yourself

To find out more about Universal Credit, visit the new DWP Understanding Universal Credit website.

When is Universal Credit changing?

Universal Credit is changing in stages. Until now, some people in Waltham Forest have already been able to get this benefit, but not everyone.

From 16 May 2018, this will start to change. Waltham Forest will become what’s known as a ‘full service’ area. This means that everyone who’s eligible will be able to claim Universal Credit. But this won’t happen overnight. The changes are happening in stages across the borough, depending on where you live.

The exact timescale will depend on your postcode. You can check if you're in a Universal Credit area with the postcode tracker on GOV.UK.

If you want to apply for benefits, your JobCentre Plus will tell you whether you apply for Universal Credit straight away, or whether you have to apply for the 'legacy' benefits. You can check when the change to Universal Credit is likely to happen for you, by using the Universal Credit postcode tracker on the Entitled To website. Eventually, everyone eligible will be able to apply for Universal Credit.

The table shows what you need to do after 16 May 2018, to ensure you continue to get help with your rent.

Your situation What's changing / what you need to do
  • you get Housing Benefit
  • and your circumstances haven't changed

You'll stay on Housing Benefit for now, and move to Universal Credit some time after July 2019. The DWP will send you a letter nearer the time, telling you exactly when you need to move to Universal Credit and how you do this. 

  • you get Housing Benefit
  • and your circumstances have changed

Depending on how your circumstances have changed, legacy benefits may be no longer available to you. If this is the case, you can choose to claim Universal Credit.

Once you claim Universal Credit, your Housing Benefit claim will end, unless:

  • you're in specified, or temporary, accommodation (see the definition of these below)
  • you have three or more children
  • you don't get Universal Credit
  • and you have three or more children

You need to claim Housing Benefit from us, for help with your rent.

  • you get Universal Credit
  • and you have a third child
You'll stay on Universal Credit.
  • you get Universal Credit
  • and you live in 'specified' accommodation (see definition below)
You need to claim Housing Benefit from us, for help with your rent.
  • you get Universal Credit
  • and you live in 'temporary' accommodation (see definition below)

If you went onto Universal Credit before 11 April 2018 and your rent hasn’t changed, you’ll continue to get help with your rent as part of your Universal Credit payment. If the cost of your rent has changed, you should claim Housing Benefit for your rent costs.

If you go onto Universal Credit after 11 April 2018, you still need to claim Housing Benefit from us for help with your rent.

If you're already getting Universal Credit when you move into temporary accommodation, you should claim Housing Benefit for your rent costs.

  • you live with your partner as a couple
  • and one of you is pension age, the other is working age

As a couple, you can decide whether to claim Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. It's not possible for a couple to claim both.

If you decide to claim Housing Benefit, the person of pension age will need to make the claim. If you decide to claim Universal Credit, the person of working age will need to make the claim.

You may be better off claiming Housing Benefit, or you may be better off claiming Universal Credit, depending on your circumstances. A claim for Universal Credit will also affect your Pension Credit, if you get it. 

You can check which benefit will make you better off, by using the benefits calculator on GOV.UK.

  • you live with your partner as a couple
  • and both of you are pension age
You need to claim Housing Benefit from us, for help with your rent.
Claim Housing Benefit

 

Even if you claim Universal Credit, you can still apply for free school meals from us.

If you’re responsible for paying Council Tax and need help with the payments, you need to apply separately for Council Tax Support from us. If you live in temporary accommodation outside the borough, you’ll need to claim in the borough you’re living in.

Under Universal Credit, money for your rent will be paid once a month directly into your bank account. It won’t be paid directly to your landlord. This means you must make your own arrangements with your landlord to pay your rent.

We advise you to contact your landlord immediately, once you’ve applied for Universal Credit.

Council tenants should contact Income Services on: 020 8496 4197 or by emailing rents@walthamforest.gov.uk. Please quote your rent payment reference.

Help with managing your rent and budgeting is available from:

Landlords: Universal Credit and your tenants

Find information on Universal Credit for landlords on GOV.UK.

Download our guide:

Temporary accommodation

We use this term to mean housing arranged by a council, because they have decided the tenant is homeless.

Specified accommodation

There are four categories of specified accommodation:

  • Category 1: This is accommodation where the organisation providing the accommodation provides the person being housed with care, support or supervision. Accommodation can be provided by: a county council, housing association, registered charity or a voluntary organisation.
  • Category 2: This is accommodation where the person being housed has been put there to meet an identifiable need for care, support or supervision. Accommodation can be provided by: a county council, housing association, registered charity or a voluntary organisation.
  • Category 3: This is accommodation for victims of domestic violence. Accommodation can be provided by: local authorities, as well a county councils, housing associations, registered charities or voluntary organisations.
  • Category 4: This is hostel accommodation that provides care and support. It also provides supervision for people at Pension Credit age.

You can apply for Universal Credit online on GOV.UK.

You'll need:

  • a bank account
  • an email address - this is the main way the DWP will contact you

The online form must be completed in one go, so make sure you have the following details to hand:

  • your postcode
  • your National Insurance number
  • details of the bank, building society or Post Office account you want Universal Credit paid into
  • your tenancy agreement
  • your most recent rent statement
  • details of your savings or other capital
  • details of any income not from work
  • details of any other benefits you're getting

The Money Advice Service has a useful guide to setting up a bank account.

If you need help or more information, call the DWP helpline number listed on their Understanding Universal Credit website.

If you don’t have enough to live on while you wait for your first payment, you may be able to get an advance of your first Universal Credit payment. Find out more on GOV.UK

We've partnered with the Citizen's Advice Bureau to provide free personal budgeting workshops and one-to-one appointments.

For more information see the Advice Waltham Forest web site. To book an appointment, call Citizen's Advice Waltham Forest on 0300 330 1175.

You need to apply for Universal Credit online.

If you don’t have access to the internet, you can use one of the PCs at the following:

You'll need a library card for PC access.

If you don't feel confident using the internet, or don't have an email address, there's lots of help available. Find out about free internet support sessions and local classes on the WF Digital website.