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53 week rent year

Welfare Rights Adviser
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Social inclusion unit - Swansea Council

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I know the last time this happened (2019, I think), groups were lobbying Government to change the regulations, but it as this hasn’t happened, those individuals where their landlords charge weekly for rent will be missing out on 1 weeks housing cost element within their UC this financial year.
The reason being is that UC will only multiply weekly rent by 52 and divide by 12; when there are actually 53 weeks in the year.
Did we lose the battle on lobbying government or did this just get sidelined? 
This does need to get taken up again as an issue.

Elliot Kent
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They’ve said they won’t do anything about it every time it has come up:
https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2018-11-28/196906
https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2023-11-21/2745

I think it is unhelpful to discuss this in terms of a “53 week year” as this is just a relic of social landlords charging rent weekly on a Monday. There are not 53 weeks in this or any other year - there are just 53 Mondays. The DWP very easily gets out of the issue by just telling social landlords that they should charge a monthly rent and then the problem goes away for another few years.

The real issue is that a calendar year averages to about 52.178 weeks long, so to more accurately express a weekly figure as a monthly figure, you’d need to multiply by that instead of 52 and do that every month - not just in the ‘53 week year’ months. Someone with a weekly rent of £100 therefore has a ‘monthly’ rent of £434.82 rather than £433.33. 

Gareth Morgan
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Sigh, It’s a problem of innumerate social landlords.  Nobody misses out on a weeks rent in any year. There is a general loss one days support in most years and 2 in leap years.  Monthly rents would help there. More serious is the fact that with weekly rents landlords will be collecting rent 5 times in some assessment periods and 4 in others, causing budgetary problems for many tenants. That doesn’t seem to bother the landlords.

Timothy Seaside
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Whilst I would agree that many landlords (private and social) are basically innumerate, I’d disagree that this is a landlord problem. The problem, as Elliott has explained, is that UC choose to pay only 364 days of rent per year because the government chose to calculate the monthly equivalent of weekly rents by multiplying by 52 and then dividing by 12, rather than dividing by 7, multiplying by 365 or 366 (or 365.25) and then dividing by 12.

It’s similar (although not as stark) as the benefit cap issue for people paid weekly/fortnightly/four weekly. And it’s obviously very closely related to the issue of averaging out rent free weeks over the year rather than just applying them when they happen (which is something that is obviously beyond the computing ability of the DWP and their IT contractors). It doesn’t surprise me that nothing happens about it because most people’s eyes start to glaze over when you explain it to them - it sounds to them like it’s just geeks being pedantic.

Of course, if you’re saying the problem is that landlords are blaming their tenants for missing a week’s rent, then yes, that is very much a landlord innumeracy/ignorance issue. As is the issue when landlords complain they’re not getting a full month’s rent when they have rent free weeks.

I was going to say it doesn’t happen with HB, but then I remembered a court desk case years ago with a housing association tenant whose rent was monthly. The housing association had sent a solicitor and housing officer because they said she wasn’t keeping to the terms of her suspended possession order. But she was getting full HB (paid four weekly to the landlord) and keeping to an arrears payment. After I explained it, the judge was quite cross with the landlord for wasting everybody’s time.

Charles
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Some more info about the various options they considered on a recent FOI request I made:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/universal_credit_and_53_week_ren#outgoing-1561192

Elliot Kent
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Charles - 12 February 2024 04:12 PM

Some more info about the various options they considered on a recent FOI request I made:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/universal_credit_and_53_week_ren#outgoing-1561192

It alludes as well to the unsuccessful 2020 judicial review on the point which I had entirely forgotten about:
https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2020/2482.html