RLA trainer, housing benefit (HB) and Universal Credit (UC) expert Bill Irvine returns with news of changes to the DWPs Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA) process.
He says the new system, which uses non-secure email and a new APA form, is great news for private landlords and should make the whole process more efficient and effective.
The new process means that landlords without access to secure email addresses can now send APAs electronically. Previously they had to submit them by post.
Bill writes: In one of my July bulletins I explained a new e-mail facility which had been produced by DWP to help facilitate applications for Alternative Payment Arrangements.
The procedure had two parts to it:
- A secure e-mail route for landlords who had GSI related Email addresses, GSI, GCSX, GSX, CJX, CJSM or GSE. If you had such an e-mail facility you could email the completed form to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org However, if you didn’t have the necessary suffix any e-mailed request made through the secure route would effectively be disregarded.
- An alternative non-secure procedure was available for those landlords that didn’t have the secure e-mail facility but this meant completing the APA application and then sending it by post to DWP’s Mail opening Unit (MOU) in Wolverhampton.
DWP wrongly assumed most social landlords could access the secure process but it quickly became apparent this was not the case. Since the announcement I have been pressing DWP hierarchy for a more efficient non-secure procedure and am pleased to advise you that they have now published details of a new form and e-mail facility that removes the need to send your applications any longer by post.
You can still do so, if you prefer, but the new e-mail route should prove much easier, more efficient and reduce APA turnaround times.
The new non-secure form is available here
It’s very similar to the secure version but now includes a section which asks you to identify which of the Tier 1 categories you are basing your application on.
DWP has also published an accompanying Budgeting Support & APA booklet which you’ll find here
It explains the different types of APAs and “Third Party Deductions” process which allows you to pursue rent arrears as well as the ongoing redirection of “housing costs”.
Some of my RSL clients, using these facilities, are now securing between 50-60% of Universal Credit tenants housing element which, as you know, is much higher than predicted by DWP.
When they make application via e-mail or post they include the following request:
“Please find attached an application for an Alternative Payment Arrangements, based on Tier 1 criteria, including the necessary supporting evidence.
Please ensure that payment of the “housing costs” element of the UC award is suspended immediately and remains so until a decision is made on the merits of this application, as this would ensure public funds are not misused. This request is based on Regulation 58 (1) of the Universal Credit (Claims & Payments) Regulations, 2013″.
Inserting a paragraph of this nature should protect the housing element from being paid to the tenant and avoid the possibility of it being misused. It will also aid your attempts to secure “compensation” in the event of any delays, mistakes or misuse caused by DWP.