Claiming Universal Credit? Be prepared for paying extra rent in 53-week year

Hands putting coin in purse

This year there are 53 weeks of rent to pay for. However, the monthly Universal Credit system only accounts for 52 weeks so tenants who use universal credit to pay their rent, need to budget for the extra week.

Every 5 or 6 years there are 53 weeks within a payment year rather than the standard 52. This is due to spare days in each year adding up and creating an extra week and it happens this financial year.

What is Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a monthly payment from the government, to help people on low incomes or out of work, with the costs of living. This includes help to pay for housing costs.

If you use Universal Credit to pay your rent

As a claimant of Universal Credit, you will have been advised by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), that you will only be paid 52 weeks’ worth of rent costs this year (1 April 2019 to 5 April 2020) even though there are 53 weeks to pay for.

This means the maximum amount you may receive in Universal Credit for housing will not be sufficient to cover all rent payments due. This is because there are 53 Mondays in the rent year, but the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 calculate housing costs based on 52 weeks a year, before adjusting for rent free weeks. This is unfortunately outside our control and is the position for all tenants across the country claiming Universal Credit and paying a weekly rent and service charge.

This means that you must find a weeks’ worth of rent from elsewhere. We have been writing to tenants throughout the year to advise, where possible, that they should save enough money each year to address the one-week shortfall.

When you find that you have received too small of a payment to cover your rent please contact our Income Team straight away so we can assist you.

Need help with rent debt?

There are a number of reasons why you could get into rent debt. If you’re in debt, whatever the reason, please contact us straight away.

Our Income Team provides free advice and support to help you to pay off your debt. Please do not ignore any advice given or attempts to contact you, as getting into rent debt is a breach of your tenancy agreement with us. It is important that you are open and honest with us, so that we can agree a suitable payment plan together.

Find out more

Find out more about support and benefits.