Scottish Choices and Alternative Payment Arrangements
New Universal Credit claimants have the choice to receive their UC award paid to them twice a month. They can also decide to have their housing costs award paid direct to their landlord.
These choices will become available on your online Universal Credit account approximately five to six weeks after you make your UC claim. The options will remain visible on your online account for 90 days. However you can take up these options at any point after the initial 90 day period, you just need to add a note onto your online UC Journal, or speak to your work coach to request either (or both) of the Scottish Choices.
Anyone who made a claim for Universal Credit before 07 November 2017 should speak to their work coach or telephone the UC Live Service contact centre on freephone 0800 328 9344 if they wish to access the Scottish Choices.
Types of APAs
Alternative payments of Universal Credit (also known as APAs) can be made if it is considered you are unable to manage your single monthly payment and there is a risk of financial harm to you or your family. Payments can be:
made more frequently (eg - twice a month)
split between partners (eg - if one partner is not financially responsible and there are financial harm concerns)
It is also possible for the housing cost element of your UC award to be paid direct to your landlord (this is referred to as a Managed Payment).
Applying for an APA
To apply, you should first of all speak to your work coach at your local jobcentre and explain the reasons why you are seeking an APA. Decisions to award an APA are not made locally. Your work coach will pass the request onto a Universal Credit Agent.
Many factors can be taken into account when considering an APA, such as your ability to regularly pay your bills on time, or if you have rent arrears or other debts.
If your tenancy is at risk (or if you have been evicted in the past) then these factors will also be considered, along with any health conditions which impair your ability to manage your own affairs effectively.
Supporting evidence from a third party (eg a support worker or landlord) may also be requested to assist the person making the APA decision.
A representative or landlord can also request a managed payment for your UC claim. However for this to happen, you would have to be in rent arrears of at least two months, or have accrued one month’s rent arrears due to underpayment of rent over a period of time. Such requests would need documentary evidence.
It is also possible to have more than one APA in place at one time. For example, you can have a frequent payment and have your housing costs paid directly to your landlord.
APAs can be refused. If this happens you can ask the DWP to look again at their decision, but there is no right of appeal.
Duration of an APA
The duration of an APA will vary on an individual basis. A review date will be arranged with you to discuss if your financial capabilities have improved. If you have more than one APA in place then it would be appropriate to consider a gradual move back to the default position. The maximum an APA review period can last for is 24 months.
Personal Budgeting Support
Your work coach will discuss Personal Budgeting Support with you. The aim of Personal Budgeting Support is to help you gain skills to help you become more financially independent. This service is carried out by a local advice agency and it can be delivered either face-to-face or over the telephone