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DWP to roll out new direct payment system for landlords

DWP announces it will be rolling out a new direct payment system to users of the Landlord Portal.

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The DWP has announced that, from next month, it will be rolling out a new direct payment system, to users of the Landlord Portal, that will align the timing of payments to landlords with payments to claimants.

Up until now, the DWP was using its four-weekly batch payment system for managed payments to landlords and Scottish Universal Credit choices direct payments. Many housing associations found that the task of reconciling payments with an individual rent account was a complicated task and could push rent accounts into arrears.

The new payment system should also allow for better quality of information that will be available via the Landlord Portal, with the capacity to download payment history on individuals and to get schedules in electronic (CSV) format.

In a letter to stakeholders, Neil Couling, the DWP’s Senior Responsible Officer for Universal Credit, said that landlords will be contacted two weeks before the go-live date, with detailed guidance to help use the new feature and to get support, if needed.

SFHA Policy Lead Jeremy Hewer said: “This change has been our top ask of the DWP for years, and I very much hope it will mark a sea change for our members and their tenants’ experience of Universal Credit.

“Housing officers and tenants alike will be able to know exactly what the status of their rent account is, and it should enable arrears management to be far more straightforward, which I hope to see reflected in our future monthly Universal Credit impact surveys.

“Another significant change coming this month is the introduction of a two-week run-on of JSA, ESA and Income Support for those moving from legacy benefits to Universal Credit. If Scottish Universal Credit choices can be brought into play from the very start of the claim, rather than after the first assessment, it could relieve much of the stress for tenants entitled to social security.

“There are still a number of significant shortcomings with Universal Credit policy, especially the five-week wait for payment and the assessment process, which the Court of Appeal recently judged to be unlawful. However, we are pleased the DWP has been willing to listen to, and work with, stakeholders to improve the processes underpinning its administration.”

Mr Couling’s letter, and a Frequently Asked Questions document are both available for download from the Social Security Channel on the SFHA members' Microsoft Teams website.

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