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Social Security Benefits: Domestic Violence

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 24th July 2018.

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Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department provides to people fleeing abuse from their home where they have a financial interest such as a mortgage and are therefore unable to claim the housing benefit element of universal credit.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

DWP has a range of measures designed to support people who flee abusive or violent households. These include easements to benefit conditionality to give claimants the space and time needed to stabilise their lives, special provisions in both Housing Benefit and Universal Credit housing support when a claimant is temporarily absent from their home through fear of violence, and exemptions from Child Maintenance fees. Work Coaches may also signpost and refer domestic violence victims to organisations that can provide further support.

In particular, a claimant who leaves a mortgaged home due to domestic abuse or violence can continue to receive a support for mortgage interest (SMI) loan in respect of that property for up to 52 weeks, where they intend to return to the property, and were receiving an SMI loan at the time they fled the property.

If the claimant has fled to a refuge, support for the rental costs is available from Housing Benefit, or if the claimant has fled and rented a general needs home, support for the housing costs is available from Universal Credit.

In Universal Credit, support for housing costs is available for victims who take a new rent liability for up to 52 weeks, as the capital value of the home they have fled from is disregarded; or in Housing Benefit for those who have fled to a refuge, if the former home is occupied by a partner from whom the claimant is estranged, the capital value from the home is disregarded for up to 26 weeks.

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