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Highland Council in update call to Universal Credit claimants ahead of annual rent increases

By Philip Murray

Highland Council news.
Highland Council news.

HIGHLAND tenants claiming Universal Credit are being urged to log on and update their claim on April 1 to ensure their entitlement covers their annual rent increase for the year ahead.

Those who fail to do so will face a shortfall in their housing entitlement, putting them at risk of arrears.

Seven affordable housing providers across the region have made the call as increasing numbers of tenants transition to the new benefits system, which requires claimants to manage their entitlement directly with the Department of Work and Pensions via an online system.

Highland Council said this marked a significant departure from the old ‘housing benefit’ system, where rent was paid directly to the landlord, allowing any changes to be communicated on the tenants’ behalf.

The seven registered social landlords include the Highland Council, Albyn Housing Society and Cairn, Lochaber, Lochalsh and Skye, Hanover and Pentland Housing Associations.

The leader of Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson said: “Universal Credit is now rolling out across the Highland region at pace, and this has required both housing providers and customers to adopt a very different approach to managing rent.

“We understand that the system can be complex, which is why we have trained our staff to support customers with any questions or concerns they may have about the system.

“This latest piece of advice comes as annual rent increases come into force on April 1, which will need to be reflected in claimants’ entitlement to ensure their rent is covered.”

Speaking on behalf of the registered social landlords, Jennifer Soley, customer services manager at Albyn Housing Society, said: “We’re here to help, so if any tenant would like advice and assistance on managing their journal, then please get in touch with your landlord.”

Before logging in to update their journal on April 1 all Universal Credit claimants will need to know the following:

  • The amount of rent for their home
  • The amount of any service charges and frequency of payment
  • The frequency of their rent charge – weekly/fortnightly etc.
  • The number of people named on the tenancy agreement
  • The number of rent free weeks.

Anyone unsure of any of these details or have service charges included in their rent should contact their housing officer to find out the correct information before they update their on-line Universal Credit journal.

For more information about Universal Credit, visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

Each of the housing providers can be reached at:

  • Highland Council: 01349 886602
  • Albyn Housing Society: 0300 323 0990 (North) or 0300 323 0991 (South)
  • Cairn Housing Association: 0800 990 3405
  • Lochaber Housing Association: 01397 702530
  • Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association: 01478 612035
  • Hanover Housing Association: 01343 548585
  • Pentland Housing Association: 01847 892507

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