Universal Credit Engagement Group for private rented sector to resume

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is set to revive the Private Rented Sector Universal Credit Engagement Group next month, following persistent advocacy efforts from Propertymark.

This development provides a platform for representatives of agents and landlords to discuss benefits and welfare in the private rented sector with the DWP.

Regularly convening with officials before the COVID-19 outbreak, the group’s activities were paused as government resources were redirected to manage the pandemic.

Propertymark played a crucial role in reinitiating the forum, emphasizing its importance in discussions with MPs and at the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into benefit levels.

Additionally, a letter from Nathan Emerson, chief executive at Propertymark, to Mel Stride, the Secretary of State, helped underline the forum’s significance, leading to the scheduling of its next meeting on December 12, 2023.

Prior to the pandemic, the group had made significant strides in refining the UC47 process, which entails landlords’ requests for direct rent payments or addressing rent arrears. It also influenced the questions DWP Work Coaches ask claimants about their rent and landlord details.

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, expressed his satisfaction with the Government’s response to their appeal for re-engaging with the private rented sector.

“We are pleased that the UK Government have listened to our call to reopen engagement with the private rented sector.

“It is vital that the experiences of agents and landlords in relation to Universal Credit are heard by policy makers in order to bring about positive and practical changes that work for everyone.

“The Engagement Group is an important forum that previously improved the way direct payments worked and we hope that through re-engaging with the sector we can highlight to the Department for Work and Pensions further areas of reform including unfreezing Local Housing Allowance and suspension of the Shared Accommodation Rate to support claimants and renters,” said Douglas.