Briefing: Universal Credit and Alternative Payment Arrangements

By: Zorana Halpin
Published: September 2013

Briefing: Universal Credit and Alternative Payment Arrangements

Shelter wants to see Alternative Payments Arrangements (APAs) used to their potential to help claimants become as financially independent as possible under Universal Credit.

To support the goal of moving people into work Universal Credit will be paid as a single monthly payment in arrears direct to households to mimic a typical salary. DWP assumes the vast majority of an estimated 8 million claimants will receive a single monthly payment.

However, DWP always acknowledged that some safeguards would be required within this, to protect the financial stability of social landlords, who currently receive housing benefit directly. The announcement of APAs in February 2013 confirmed some claimants will receive flexible payment arrangements. The intention is that APAs will support claimants to make the transition to a single monthly payment, and act as a longer term option for claimants who are likely to struggle to pay their rent for longer periods.

Shelter recognises that there is a tradeoff between administrative simplicity and individual tailoring that Universal Credit must navigate. We too want to see greater simplicity, but this must recognise the complexities of people's lives. On the issue of APAs we are concerned thatthis balance hasn't yet been struck. This briefing offers constructive and practical steps to help correct this.