Under the changes the DWP is allowed to share the following information with social landlords (not private landlords) about welfare-supported tenants, and landlords are required to receive and hold the information:

  • when the tenant claimed for/ was awarded universal credit
  • when the next payment of universal credit is due
  • whether the next payment is the first payment
  • the amount of the housing element in the next payment.

The information can be used only for: (1) providing advice, assistance or support to a universal credit claimant, and (2) monitoring and evaluating this.

This represents extra work and extra cost and is in that sense unwelcome. However, the information will give landlords better visibility of welfare-supported tenants’ rental income. The changes also allow the DWP to provide data to key partners - local authorities (who were already “in the circle”) plus CABx, credit unions and charities - for the same purposes.

It’s surprising that the Government did not build this information sharing into universal credit in the first place. However, in dealing with the issue the DWP has practised good data security. Landlords take note, in fact: we all need to apply the same discipline in keeping personal data private. Most organisations need to make up ground in terms of working practices and many in their procedures too.

The new law is silent about whether landlords can share the information with others. How are you going to play that one, then?

For more information

Contact Gemma Bell.

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