Universal Credit: New rules mean extra cash can be claimed – can you get a higher rate?

Universal Credit can provide payments to help with rent and some other housing costs. This payment, so long as it is applicable, will be given directly to the claimant who will then need to pay it to the landlord. On top of this, they may also be able to get reductions for council tax.


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The claimant’s circumstances can alter what is given however.

If the claimant is under 35 and does not live with a partner their options will be limited.

The most that they will receive support for is rent for a single room within a shared house.

This is what’s referred to as the local housing shared accommodation rate and the government provides a tool for finding the rates for local areas.

While this limit can be restrictive for claimants there are certain circumstances where it is possible to receive more than the shared accommodation rate.

More could be received if any of the following apply:

  • A claimant is disabled
  • They have a child under 18
  • They live with someone who’s dependent on them
  • They’re a care leaver and under 22
  • They’ve lived in a hostel for homeless people for at least three months in total and they’re aged 25 to 34

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These exceptions are very specific but new information from the government reveals that further exemptions will be brought in.

Rishi Sunak announced a range of changes to the Universal Credit system in his budget speech.

These changes were influenced by a number of factors such as coronavirus and cost reductions.

Taking all of his changes in one though, it was revealed that the welfare system at large will receive a boost, as he commented:


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“Taken together, these measures on ESA and Universal Credit, provide a boost of almost £0.5bn to our welfare system.”

Following the speech, the government released a policy paper on the budget which highlighted how some of these measures will work.

Shares accommodation rates have been one of the key things that the government has decided to alter, as the paper reveals:

“The government is introducing additional exemptions from the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants to protect those at risk of homelessness.

“This will enable rough sleepers aged 16-24, care leavers up to the age of 25, and victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking to live on their own, supporting their recovery from homelessness.”

These changes are likely to come through gradually in the coming months.

There will be many changes introduced which will likely evolve as the coronavirus problem marches on.

Thankfully, there are many methods for keeping up to date with all the new information which includes checking the government website, calling the Universal Credit helpline or taking advantage of independent organisations like the Money Advice Service.

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