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DWP Ministerial announcement on supported exempt accommodation and Universal Credit

Wed, 3rd Oct 12

Women’s Aid welcomes the announcement by Ministers from the Department for Work and Pensions  (DWP), who have confirmed this week, that rent payments for people fleeing domestic violence to live in a refuge will not be included in Universal Credit. Women’s Aid has been calling for this ever since the draft regulations were published in July, and have provided evidence to Government and Parliament about the potential impacts of Universal Credit.

Nicki Norman, Deputy CEO said:

"With the support of some of our local member services, Women's Aid has been campaiging for this since the summer and this is really positive news because Universal Credit arrangements would have been too rigid and limited to cover rent costs for abused women and children living in refuges. We hope this means that the future is more secure for survivors of domestic violence who desperately need refuge accomodation for their safety. We look forward to further work with the Department for Work and Pensions to establish the details and ensure that any alternative arrangements do not reduce current rental income for refuge services".   

The way that housing costs will be calculated within Universal Credit would have meant that a typical refuge could have lost up to 95% of their income from service charges. The Universal Credit monthly assessment period would have meant that the refuge would not have been paid any rent at all for short stays where a woman enters and leaves the refuge within the same monthly assessment period.

In the short term housing costs for ‘exempt accommodation’ (which includes refuges) will be delivered broadly as now through local authorities under existing DWP legislation and funding arrangements. In the longer term a localised solution is being considered by DWP.