Make rent a priority

There is nothing more important than a roof over your head, so always make rent your top priority. If you’re used to Housing Benefit paying your rent, you need to arrange a new payment method. If you are claiming Universal Credit, it’s important to tell your landlord so that proof of rent can be supplied and any other advice on what you need to do.

In the meantime, it is important that you prepare for Universal Credit. Follow the 7 point plan detailed below:

  1. Make sure you have a bank account
    To receive Universal Credit you will need a bank or building society account, or an account with an alternative provider such as a Credit Union. The account will need to be able to accept electronic payments.
     
  2. Decide whether you need a joint account
    If you live with your partner and you’re both eligible for Universal Credit, you’ll get a single monthly payment which can be paid into either a joint or an individual account. You can ask the DWP to split the payment if you have exceptional circumstances.
  3. Set up a suitable payment method to pay your rent.
    If you currently get Housing Benefit, your rent will no longer be paid to directly to your landlord. Instead of Housing Benefit, this payment will be included in your monthly Universal Credit payment and you will need to pay the landlord  yourself, e.g. via Direct Debit. If you have a Credit Union account, a prepaid card account or a post office card account, check that you can set up automated payments such as Direct Debits for things like rent and bills. If you can’t, you should open an account which offers this.

  4. Draw up a monthly budget
    Because Universal Credit is paid monthly, you may need to make changes to the way you budget. Universal Credit payments will be made monthly in arrears but you won’t be able to pay your rent in arrears at the end of the month. You’ll need to make sure that your rent is paid in advance so that you don’t break the terms of your tenancy agreement. You can request personal budgeting support from your job centre work coach when you claim universal Credit

  5. Plan ahead with your rent, make it a priority
    Make small extra payments on your rent account so that you have a credit in place for when you do make a claim for Universal Credit. The claim can take up to 7 weeks to be processed by the DWP. When you make a claim, let us know.

  6. Internet access 
    The DWP expect you to claim Universal Credit and manage your account online. If you need help getting online, speak to your local JobCentre Plus or visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/libraries

  7. Verify
    In order to submit a claim for Universal Credit you will be asked to verify your ID at the end of the online application.  You can plan ahead by verifying yourself now in order to speed up the payment process for when you make an application at www.gov.uk/verify, this will also give you access to other government processes such as state pension forecasts.