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15 August 2014

DWP announce Housing Cost Verification Trial

DWP have today (Friday 15th August) announced the launch of a Housing Cost Verification Trial in the Universal Credit live running sites to facilitate date sharing more easily with social landlords. Please see full announcement below from JP Marks - Universal Credit Director of Performance and Integration:

"As part of our Test and Learn approach to the implementation of Universal Credit, we are continually considering ways in which we can improve the UC process for claimants and our interaction with Social Landlords and all our delivery partners. I am writing to you today to outline a change in the way we will seek to verify claimants housing costs following a successful trial held in the North West.

As part of the new claims process claimants will from 18th August be asked to bring a recent rent account statement as well as a copy of their tenancy agreement to their first new claim interview at the Jobcentre Plus office.

Claimants will be advised that an easy way to do this is to obtain this information from their landlord, and/or to give consent for DWP to contact their landlord direct for this information.

This process will improve and streamline the housing cost verification process. In addition it will enable us to inform you at the earliest opportunity that your tenant has made a UC claim.

This process will also enable early identification of any rent arrears that may be outstanding so we can consider Alternative Payment Arrangement requirements. If an Alternative Payment Arrangement is considered appropriate, we will contact you to request further information to arrange a managed payment of the UC housing cost element to be put in place quickly from the outset of the claim. We can also, on request, then arrange for deductions for rent arrears if they relate to the property in which the tenant is currently residing.

Building on these new arrangements, the Department will continue to actively look in to what other means are available to facilitate data sharing more easily with social landlords.

Joint working between DWP and social landlords is important to us and supports the successful delivery of Universal Credit, and we are keen to continue our close liaison and collaboration going forwards."