Surrey Universal Credit claimants warned of shortfall

Surrey Universal Credit claimants are being warned their rent contributions could fall short this year.

The new financial year, which started on 1 April, has 53 Mondays up until 31 March 2025.

Councils in Surrey are telling tenants to be aware of the 53-week rent year, with Universal Credit rent calculations based on a 52-week year.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said its calculation for weekly rent payments was confirmed by the High Court.

Universal Credit replaced several other benefits and is paid monthly, while social rents are often billed weekly.

Guildford Borough Council is warning tenants they will need to make up a monthly shortfall in covering rent compared to their Universal Credit payments.

While tenants in Tandridge paying by direct debit were told the council would automatically adjust payments to cover the 53-week period.

The Social Housing Action Campaign is calling on housing associations to drop the 53rd weekly payment for tenants.

They highlighted rent increases and the cost-of-living crisis and said the 53-week rent year “could not have fallen at a worse time”.

The spokesperson added: “All of these trends have combined to put an unbearable strain on household finances, and are causing huge distress and suffering.”

Laura Magezi, policy leader at the National Housing Federation, called on the government to change how Universal Credit payments are made.

She said this would “protect the thousands of people and families affected from being pushed further into financial hardship”.

A DWP spokesperson said: “No calendar year has 53 weeks, and the calculation for payments we use for claimants paying their rent weekly has been confirmed by the High Court.”

They said Universal Credit is “designed to mirror the world of work”, paid and calculated by calendar month, helping claimants “take responsibility for budgeting their money”.