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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

How to maximise rental income through universal credit and housing benefit


The Chancellor's summer and autumn statements in 2015 set out a series of measures designed to reduce benefit expenditure, to help balance the Government's budget. These include income related benefits (JSA, Income Support and ESA) being frozen at 2015/16 levels for four years; Housing Benefit applicable amounts and Universal Credit Standard Allowance and Elements being frozen for same period; a number of the premiums/elements, designed to enhance payment, being removed for new claims; backdating being restricted; temporary absence rules being shortened; overlapping benefit periods being changed/withdrawn; Housing Benefit awards being restricted to LHA rates, including the Shared Accommodation Rate where tenants are under 35; the automatic entitlement to HB being removed for 18-21 year old; plus many other alterations.

Social Landlords need to act swiftly and positively to protect their tenants’ income and their own rental income! This needs to start at the pre-tenancy stage and be maintained throughout the tenancy. Staff are required to act quickly as time limits apply in most cases. Universal Credit brings a range of new challenges in the form of online claims; monthly Benefit Assessments Periods; variable payment dates, APAs; the "whole month rule", claimant commitments; a dilution of appeal and complaint rights and more. The two schemes will run parallel well into the next decade but their rules will differ significantly. Staff need to know when and how the more advantageous rules apply to protect award levels. Scottish Government proposals may vary elements of UC administration but UC remains primarily the responsibility of DWP.

Advocating on behalf of tenants can sometimes bring landlord staff into direct conflict with those charged with administering these complex and ever changing schemes. This course explains how tenants and their representatives can best set about questioning and, if need be, challenging decisions through correspondence and telephone contact, and if this fails, make representation to First-tier tribunals and Public Sector Ombudsman.

Learning Outcomes/objectives

At the end of this course you will better understand:

*Differences between Housing benefit and Universal Credit law and associated DWP guidance

*How best to make a successful claim for UC and what supporting evidence is required

*Who can legitimately claim Universal Credit and what must they do to secure optimum entitlement?

*Importance of ‘occupying’ the family home; what happens when there's delayed occupation; what happens to overlapping liabilities?

*How can landlords secure payments direct (APAs) for 4 weekly/monthly rent and "third party" deductions?

*What happens when couples split; two households combine; when family members move away, join the household or die?

*When should housing benefit or Universal Credit entitlement start; when to expect first payment; ‘backdating’; changes in circumstances; the 'whole month rule’.

*HB & UC differ significantly in respect of non-dependents – how to minimise/eradicate deductions.

*Differing rules applying to housing benefit and Universal Credit in respect of "temporary absence" from the home (hospital, residential care/nursing home, prison, fleeing violence).

*Overpayments and recovery. Who from, at what rate, and by which method?

*Universal Credit has very different rules applying to overpayments, their recoverability; method and rate of recovery from tenant's standard allowance and restrict the ability to appeal

*How best to question/challenge a decision and submit an appeal to First-tier tribunal or make a complaint to DWP, MPs and Ombudsman.

Who should attend

Council and Housing Association staff involved with housing and income management and those involved with advice agencies who need some level of knowledge of housing benefit and Universal Credit to ensure they can help tenants maximise their entitlement and in so doing reduce the potential for rent arrears accruing.

Trainer Info

Bill Irvine was head of benefits, revenues and advice services at one of the UK’s largest councils; acted as local government advisor to the Housing Benefit Standing Committee, Westminster; acted as a welfare rights advocate; tutored on Housing Benefit/rent arrears issues on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Housing. He currently operates UC & HB Advice & Advocacy acting as representative of tenants, private landlords and housing associations in their respective housing benefit/Local Housing Allowance negotiations with councils and, rather uniquely, represents them in disputes before first and upper-tier Tribunals. He also writes regular articles on Universal Credit/housing benefit/Local Housing Allowance related topics and responds to landlord’s queries and complaints via various web-based forums, including his own website. Bill was one of the principal witnesses at the DWP Select Committee, Westminster hearings, relating to Local Housing Allowance in January 2010, where some of his recommendations were adopted as “good practice” in subsequently produced DWP Guidance.

Dates & Locations

7 June 2017, Edinburgh


Standard price = £260 + VAT

Contributing organisation = £210 + VAT

CIH Member = £235 + VAT

Booking Procedure

You can view our online booking procedure here.

Purchase Orders

Please note that if your organisation requires a purchase order number on the invoice, you MUST input this at the point of booking.

Terms and conditions

Please read our terms & conditions carefully before booking.



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