Universal Credit changes affecting 18–21 year olds

The Government has recently announced changes that mean some young people aged between 18 and 21 who claim Universal Credit will not receive help towards their housing costs. There is no change to Housing Benefit rules. If you are 22 or older this change does not apply to you.

From 1st April 2017 the Government removed automatic entitlement to housing costs support in Universal Credit for new claims where the person claiming is: 


• a single person


• aged 18-21


• claiming Universal Credit in a digital service area


• subject to all of the work-related requirements of Universal Credit.



There are currently two kinds of Universal Credit claims:


• Live service - managed through the Jobcentre 


• Digital service also known as full service - managed online. Digital service is the full version of UC which is scheduled to be rolled out across the country by September 2018. 


Universal Credit claims are determined by Jobcentre area so if you currently don’t claim but intend to it’s important to find out if this will be a digital claim. A full list of jobcentre areas is available here.


Some people aged 18-21 who claim should not be affected because of their personal circumstances. Customers who meet the exemptions criteria should be able to claim housing costs support once assessed for Universal Credit. Exemptions will apply to customers aged 18 to 21 who:


• are responsible for a child or a qualifying young person


• are placed into temporary accommodation as they meet the requirements to be classified as being homeless


• were a care leaver before reaching the age of 18


• receive the care component of disability living allowance (DLA) at the middle or highest rate 


• receive the daily living component of personal independence payment (PIP)


• have been subject to, or threatened with, domestic violence by their partner, former partner, or a family member


• cannot live with their parents due to a serious risk to their physical or mental health and the Government agree it inappropriate to expect them to do so


• have no living parent or neither parent lives in Great Britain


• has earned income equal to or exceeding the monthly amount they would earn whilst working 16 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage 


• has been working for six months before they claim Universal Credit and have earned equal to or more than the *appropriate earnings threshold. 



*The appropriate earnings threshold is a rate set by the government that determines how much someone can earn before they have to pay tax.



Demonstrating an exemption


We’re still waiting for advice from the Government on what people will need to do to prove they have an exemption. However, we expect that for Universal Credit applications you will require a formal letter from a doctor, health worker, support provider, local authority or another professional body to support your claim. For more advice on this please speak to your support worker or contact our customer service centre on 0345 141 4663 and let the advisor know you are claiming Universal Credit.



Paying your rent

These benefit changes could seriously affect your ability to afford your home.


If you claim Universal Credit and you are assessed as not being eligible for the housing costs element, you will struggle to pay your rent in full and on time unless you get a job or source alternative income. 

Failure to pay your rent in full and on time will place your tenancy at risk so please contact us on 0345 141 4663 as soon as possible if you are experiencing difficulty paying your rent or claiming Universal Credit as we have trained advisors who can help you.