If you’re struggling with your rent or other bills
Date last updated: 16 July 2018
Universal Credit: help with managing money
If you’re struggling with bills or the rent, or you’re worried you’ll struggle when you claim Universal Credit, there are some adjustments that you can ask for to help make it easier to manage your money. These changes are called ‘alternative payment arrangements’.
Related information: getting universal paid early when you first claim
Types of alternative payment arrangements you can request
You can ask for the following adjustments to how your Universal Credit is paid in order to help you with your finances.
- You can ask to be paid more often, e.g. twice per month
- You can ask for your rent payment to be paid straight to your landlord
- You can also get help to manage your money.
Find out more by choosing the situation that applies to you from the options below.
I'm behind with my rent
What to ask for: ‘managed payment to landlord’
Being behind with your rent is called having rent arrears.
If you have rent arrears you can ask for your rent to be paid straight to your landlord, known as a ‘managed payment’. It won’t go into your bank account at all. This can make it easier to work out what’s left for your other bills, food and other costs you have to pay.
How to request a managed payment of your rent straight to your landlord
You can ask your work coach through your online journal, or in person at the jobcentre, or you can make a request by calling the Universal Credit number: 0800 328 9344.
You may be asked to provide a document that shows your rent arrears. This could be a letter from your landlord, a rent book, or a rent statement. You’ll be contacted with a decision and told whether or not your rent will be paid directly to your landlord.
If your request is not accepted, you can provide more information and request a review of the decision.
I find it difficult to manage money and pay bills
What to ask for: ‘more frequent payments’
You can request that your Universal Credit is paid twice a month. In rare cases it could be more often than this. You would receive your Universal Credit in two payments rather than one if it would help you to repay your debts and manage your money.
To get this type of alternative payment arrangement you will need to show that you cannot manage the single monthly payment.
Also ask for: ‘managed payment to landlord’
Your rent can be taken from your Universal Credit and sent straight to your landlord. This way it doesn’t go into your bank account and get swallowed up by other debts and bills. You can then work out what you have left for other bills and costs for the rest of the month.
Who can apply for alternative payment arrangements?
To apply for alternative payments you will need to show that you are affected by one or more of the following:
- Difficulty reading or writing, or with numbers
- Mental health
- Domestic abuse
- Rent arrears
- Homelessness or being in temporary or supported accommodation
- Addiction problems e.g. drug, alcohol, gambling
- Being under 18 or a care leaver
- There are lots of different, complicated issues affecting your family
Other situations when an alternative payment arrangement could be put in place
- You have debts or fines being taken out of your benefits already
- You have had rent arrears in the past
- You’ve been homeless or in temporary or supported housing in the past
- You’ve just left hospital
- You have a disability or sensory impairment
- English is not your first language
- You’re a refugee or asylum seeker
- You’re not in education, employment or training
- You’ve just left prison
- You’ve been bereaved recently
- You’ve served in the armed forces
I need help with debt - or to work out a budget
What to ask for: Personal Budgeting Support
Personal budgeting support is available – you need to ask your work coach and they will tell you what support is available and can refer you to your local money advice organisations for specialist help and support. The help available will be by telephone, online or can be face to face. Ask your work coach for more information on what’s available in your local area.
Don’t forget to read Gingerbread’s online information about dealing with debt and making ends meet. You will find lots of information, including details of organisations who can help you with budgeting and who can negotiate with banks and lenders on your behalf if you have debts.