Universal Credit - Digital Roll-out starts May 2016 - Are you prepared?
DWP will press ahead with its "digital system" roll-out from May 2016 with initially 5 Jobcentres added for the next 6 months with a further 50 new Jobcentre areas, per month, added from January 2017.
The digital system completely removes the "gateway" conditions which have so far operated to restrict claims (225,000 nationwide) to mainly single unemployed claimants. Removing barriers will immediately increase, quite dramatically, the number and type of claimants, including families, people with disabilities, who can claim. The digital system also operates under different rules with claims being made, in the majority of cases, online, whereas current claims are mainly processed by DWP staff operating in Jobcentres. The roll-out will prove exceptionally challenging for Private Landlords as your tenants can expect little or no support from DWP or local advice agencies who are already swamped with benefit issues.
How will the new scheme differ from LHA? The answer is, in more ways than you could ever have anticipated, so it's vitally important you familiarise yourself with all its component parts and complexities. If you do you're less likely to experience the rental losses already experienced by many of our members!
This Universal Credit course has been specifically tailored for PRS landlords & agents. It is designed to highlight key areas of the new scheme and how it compares with LHA. This will include: how the new benefit will be assessed, and paid; how changes will affect the award and payments; the likely effect this will have on your tenant's; your own collection arrangements, rental income and rent arrears control.
Dealing with a remote and ambivalent DWP has been challenging to say the least. The new administration process places an emphasis on tenants making their claim online; providing supporting documentation in an electronic format; being forced to make a "claimant commitment" before payment commences and cope with the effect of sanctions when they're applied. There is NO facility to apply for help with the housing element on a "NIL income" basis as there is with LHA. All changes in circumstances have to be notified online and failure to do so immediately can attract penalties where overpayments occur. Something called the "whole month rule" can produce unexpected rental losses which will affect the tenant's ability to meet their contractual liability.
Provide you with a working knowledge of Universal Credit; how it differs from LHA; explain a host of related matters (how to claim; alternative payment arrangements; third party recovery of rent arrears, Credit Unions etc.) so you have a clear understanding of what actions, if any, you need to take now and in the future to protect your tenant's award and your own business interests.
Any landlord, letting agent or other housing service provider concerned about the potential impact of Universal Credit on their tenant's, and their own revenue streams.
The aims of Universal Credit:
Throughout the day we will encourage delegate participation. We use practical exercises and case studies, drawn from the "live" sites and Digital Pilots, to highlight the main features of Universal Credit. There will be plenty of time for discussion of issues and concerns around both UC and LHA. Ultimately, the tutor will aim to ensure delegates are well informed on how to use the law to best effect and reduce the potential for rental income loss.
Remember that Continuous Professional Development points (CPD) apply to RLA courses. You can also get CPD points for being a member of the Residential Landlords Association.
Prices for the Universal Credit/LHA Course training course range from:
We are currently planning additional dates for this course. If you would like to be informed when these are arranged, please click here.
This course is worth 3 points with the Residential Landlords Association Accreditation Scheme
RLAAS is a national scheme who aim to encourage, acknowledge and actively promote good standards and management practice by owners and to assist owners and tenants to undertake their respective responsibilities to each other.
RLAAS is open to all landlords who operate in the private sector, and accreditation is FREE. Members of RLAAS also receive a discount when enroling for a course operated by the Residential Landlord's Association.
To find out more, and what RLAAS means to landlords and tenants across the country, visit the RLAAS website.