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Universal Credit Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs) are monetary payments given to those eligible individuals who have struggled financially to enable flexible payment arrangements. There are different types of APAs which can help people in different circumstances. Express.co.uk has compiled a guide to explain how Alternative Payment Arrangements work and how much you could be entitled to.
Universal Credit Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs) are paid to those who cannot manage their single monthly payments.
These payments are given when there is a risk of financial harm to claimants and/or their families.
There are three types of APA:
- Paying housing costs of Universal Credit as a Managed Payment (MP) direct to the landlord
- Those making more frequent than monthly payments
- Split payment of an award between partners.
Who is eligible for an APA?
APA will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
A claimant can have one or more APA based on their individual circumstances.
The Department for Work and Pensions has outlined guidance for Tier One and Tier Two eligibility factors, the former being highly likely or probable a claimant will need an APA and the latter meaning it is less likely, but possible, that a Universal Credit claimant will need APA.
The Department for Work and Pensions has classed the following as tier one factors:
- Drug, alcohol or other addiction problems
- Learning difficulties, including literacy or numeracy problems
- Severe or multiple debt problems
- Being in temporary or supported accommodation
- Domestic violence or abuse
- A mental health condition
- Rent arrears
- Threat of eviction
- You are aged 16 or 17
- You are young and leaving care
- Your family has multiple and complex needs.
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Tier two vulnerabilities mean you might need an Alternative Payment Arrangement, however, it is not as likely as someone with a tier-one vulnerability and is dependent on your personal circumstances.
Tier two vulnerabilities include:
- Having no bank account
- Third-party deductions from your benefit. These are deductions to pay things like fuel bill arrears, and certain ongoing costs
- Being a refugee or asylum seeker
- Having a history of rent arrears
- Previous homelessness or living in supported accommodation
- Having just left prison or hospital
- Recent bereavement
- Language skills, for example, if English isn’t your first language
- Having been in the armed forces
- Not being in education, employment or training.
When considering your eligibility for an APA, the Job Centre will consider whether to pay your housing costs directly to your landlord.
This method will protect you from losing your home if you are in rent arrears.
They would also consider paying Third Party Deductions, which are payments from your standard allowance to pay towards your arrears so both your rent and arrears payments are covered.
JobCentre Plus will then consider paying your Universal Credit more regularly, it is most likely they would be paid twice a month, however, in some circumstances, they will consider paying more frequently.
The Job Centre may also split your Universal Credit payment between you and your partner.
They might do this equally or unequally, depending on who has had money problems in the past and has suffered domestic violence but are still living with your partner.
How to request an APA
If you are applying for Universal Credit or you are about to apply, you should ask for the arrangement you want at your interview.
If you already receive Universal Credit, you should call the Universal Credit helpline on the below numbers:
- Telephone: 0800 328 5644
- Textphone: 0800 328 1344
- Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888.
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