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You can get help to pay your housing costs if you receive Universal Credit and you could be entitled to getting a reduction in your Council Tax bill as well as a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Council Tax Reduction

Council tax reduction is the new way to support you to pay your council tax bill each month. As a Universal Credit claimant you’ll need to make a separate application to get money off of your council tax bill. These schemes are run by your local council and help people who are either unemployed or on a low income and struggle to pay their monthly bill.

It doesn’t matter whether you rent or own your home, you can make a claim as long as you live in that property and it’s your only house.

What discount you get depends on where you live because each council runs its own scheme. It can also depend on your individual circumstances, your household income and whether you have children or other adults living with you.

To find out more about applying for a council tax reduction in Rhondda Cynon Taff visit the council’s website.

Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is a payment you can receive from your local authority to help towards your housing costs. You can only be given it if you currently claim Housing Benefit or receive the housing costs element of Universal Credit.

The Discretionary Housing Payment provides you with extra money to help pay for your home. This could be to cover the cost of one-off expenses such as; paying your rent in advance, a deposit for a rented property and removal costs to help you when you’re moving into a new home.

It can also be paid to you to help cover the cost of your rent if there isn’t enough money in your housing benefit to cover the rent you have to pay yourself.

Any special circumstances that might be causing you financial difficulties will be taken into account. These could include:

  • If you have to pay child maintenance
  • If you have to pay legal costs
  • If you have extra heating costs because you spend a lot of time at home because of an illness or disability
  • If you have additional travel costs because you’re travelling to a doctor or hospital or you are a carer for a relative or friend
  • If your work-related travel costs have increased because you had to move as a result of cuts to local housing allowance or the introduction of the bedroom tax
  • If you are likely to become homeless if a payment isn’t made

Personal Budgeting Support

Universal Credit brings lots of changes including; being paid every four weeks and paying your rent directly to your landlord. Personal budgeting support is available to help you get used to these changes as easily as possible. There are few different things you can get help with, they are:

Money advice

You can access money advice online, over the phone or face to face. It’s designed to help you learn how to manage your money effectively on a monthly basis so you’re able to pay all of your bills on time.

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/categories/universal-credit

(One-on-one advice for Trivallis customers)

https://www.trivallis.co.uk/universal-credit

Alternative payment arrangements

There are a number of different options available to you if you’re really struggling to manage your monthly Universal Credit payment. If you feel you and your family might be at risk of not being able to pay your household bills and other living costs you can explore something known as an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA).

There are a few options available to people who are looking for additional support. You could potentially organise for the housing element of your Universal Credit payment to go directly to your landlord so you no longer have to worry about paying them directly. In addition, you could be paid more than once a month or you could split the payment.

It’s really important to remember this will only be arranged if you’re in rent arrears and have struggled to pay your rent on time for several months. It will usually be considered by your landlord and the DWP if the amount you owe is more than two months’ worth of rent.

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Please remember that each decision is made on a case by case basis depending on your personal circumstances and will be determined by the Universal Credit agent who will assess  whether they believe this is suitable or not.

You can make a request for a managed payment during your work search interview with your Universal Credit work coach or by calling 0800 328 9344.