We know that the rollout of Universal Credit across the country has caused problems for many people in Shared Lives, so we’re pleased to publish a briefing which explores Universal Credit in full. It describes what people who use Shared Lives are actually entitled to, potential pitfalls and problems with the transition to Universal credit.
The document gives a call out for Shared Lives schemes, carers and people being supported to get in touch with their specific experiences of benefits experience, so we can continue to hone our guidance around the issue.
Please use the below guidance and information when encountering problems with Universal Credit and to challenge decisions and rulings of job centres. Pleaseshare the relevant information with Shared Lives carers
Tenancy Agreements for people supported in Shared Lives
Some people have experienced job centre staff saying that people using Shared Lives must have a tenancy agreement in place to apply for Universal Credit, but this isn’t right. Eligibility to receive the housing element of Universal Credit is based around whether an individual is responsible for paying rent. It does not matter whether the individual has a tenancy or a license agreement, as both specify that the individual has a legal responsibility to pay rent.
This is laid out in the Government’s Universal Credit regulations
Schedule 1 (Paragraph 2) defines a rent payment as
2. “Rent payments” are such of the following as are not excluded by paragraph 3
(a) payments of rent;
(b) payments for a licence or other permission to occupy accommodation;
(c) mooring charges payable for a houseboat;
(d) in relation to accommodation which is a caravan or mobile home, payments in respect of the site on which the accommodation stands;
(e) contributions by residents towards maintaining almshouses (and essential services in them) provided by a housing association which is– (i) a registered charity, or (ii) an exempt charity within Schedule 3 to the Charities Act 2011.
Section 25 (paragraph 3) of the Act specifies the reasons that people are liable to pay rent. It basically says that to be eligible an applicant must meet three conditions to get the housing element of Universal Credit
- A payment condition (that there is rent to be paid). People using Shared Lives pay rent to their Shared Lives carer, so this condition will be met.
- a liability condition (that there is a contract in place for the individual to pay rent – think a tenancy agreement or licence agreement. A person using Shared Lives must pay rent, as set out in their licence agreement, or they will be made homeless (in the same way they would be in any rented accommodation). This condition will therefore be me
- an occupation condition (that the address claimed for is the applicant’s home address). The person using Shared Lives is living at the Shared Lives carer’s home and it is also the home address, so this condition will be met.
So if the individual meets the eligibility criteria for the housing element on Universal Credit and meets the above three conditions, they are entitled to receive the housing element. This is regardless of whether they have a tenancy agreement or a licence agreement.