Changes to Universal Credit Housing Costs April 2017 for 18-21year olds

Young people aged between 18-21.

Since 1 April 2017, young people aged between 18 and 21 have been excluded from having a Housing Costs Element included in their Universal Credit (UC) award if they live in a Full or Digital service area. This only affects a small proportion of claimants. For more information contact us 0300 304 5000 or

  • This does not affect anyone on Housing Benefit. It is only the Universal Credit Regulations that are being amended and then only for those claimants in the Full or Digital service areas. To find out which areas are affected, use our free UC Postcode Checker

Please Note: The government has announced they will be changing the UC Regulations so all 18 to 21 year-olds are entitled to a Housing Costs Element within their Universal Credit award. This is to help pay their rent regardless of their circumstances. No date has been given for when this change will take effect.

Who Has Lost Their Help with Housing Costs Since 1 April 2017?

There are only certain young people who are no longer able to have a Housing Costs Element included in their UC award, those who are either:

  • making a totally new claim for Universal Credit in a Full or Digital service area
  • are on Universal Credit Full/Digital service area already and who, due to a change in their circumstances, have started to pay rent
  • are not in one of the many exempt groups.

If you would like to know if you are in one of the exempt groups, please contact us 0300 304 5000 or

Does It Apply to Young People Living in Supported Housing?

It can, depending on whether the young person is claiming Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to help them pay their rent. 

If they are classed as living in specified accommodation then, even if they are getting Universal Credit, their rent will be supported by Housing Benefit and so these new rules will not apply. 

If they are not classed as living in specified accommodation and are on the Universal Credit in a Full or Digital service area, then they will not be able to claim Housing Benefit and would be looking to their Universal Credit award to include a Housing Costs Element. Generally a young person living in supported housing will fall into one of the exempt groups and so will not be affected by this change in regulations.

Which young people are protected from this change?

These new rules only affect young people on the Full or Digital service. However, some Full or Digital service claimants who do not fall under any of the exclusions below will still not be immediately affected:

The new rules do not apply to:

  • Those young people who were getting a Housing Cost Element (HCE) in their Full or Digital service claim in the Monthly Assessment Period (MAP) including 31st March 2017- who have been on UC with a Housing Costs Element in every MAP since.
    But as soon as there is a break in their UC claim, or a break in their award including a HCE, they lose this protection.
  • Those young people getting a Housing Cost Element in a Live or Gateway service area, or getting Housing Benefit, immediately prior to a move to Digital or Full service and that claim includes a Housing Costs Element from the first MAP.
    There must be no break between the two claims - not even of one day. As soon as there is a break in their UC claim, or a break in their award including a HCE they lose this protection.

Which young people are excluded from this change?

The DWP want to exclude from these provisions any young person who has barriers to work and/or no parental home in which they can live.

Those excluded indefinitely are:

  • Care leavers (were in care before their 18th birthday, ie formerly provided with accommodation under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, or in Scotland section 25 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1989, and were living there on their 16th birthday).
  • Those who have had domestic violence inflicted upon them or threatened against them, by their partner / former partner or a family member.

Others excluded whilst facing the barrier to work / have no parental home in which they can live are:

  • Couples - unless they are having to claim as a single person
  • Those responsible for a child, qualifying young person, or foster child
  • Those who receive daily living PIP (or mid or high rate care DLA) or Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
  • Those who are subject to MAPPA 2 or 3 (or equivalents in Scotland)
  • Those living in temporary accommodation (as defined in the UC Regulations)
  • Those unable to live with their parents because they have no parent or because neither parent occupies accommodation as their home in the UK
  • Young people where the DWP consider it inappropriate* for them to live with parents - including, but not limited to, those at a serious risk to their physical or mental health or who would suffer significant harm, if they lived with them.
  • Working** young people earning above a earnings threshold, and
  • Those who have been in work** for 6 months or more - for the first 6 months after leaving work
  • Those not falling within the all work-requirements group - eg, not: with a limited capability for work/work related activities, full time carer, pregnant and 11 weeks before baby is due, full time apprentice.
  • Those who, even if in the all-work related requirements group, have been given their expected hours as under 35 per week, have a physical or mental impairment, because they have caring responsibilities, are the main carer of a foster child.
  • Those who, even if in the all work related requirements group, have had their requirements suspended because: They are in a period of short term sickness, partner/child died in previous 6 months, receiving structured recovery-orientated course of alcohol or drug dependency treatment (max 6 months), receiving medical treatment abroad, on remand or in prison, under police protection, attending court or Tribunal as party to any proceedings or as a witness.

* This will include more than just those estranged from their parents and could include where the parental home is overcrowded, or where the parental home is in an area where it would not be safe or inappropriate for the young person to live.  

** The earnings threshold is earning, within the Monthly Assessment Period, a monthly figure equal to or greater than (the appropriate National Minimum wage for 18-20 year olds X 16 hours per week) x 52/12 (or if an apprentice, earning the appropriate National Minimum Wage under the National Minimum Wage regulations on the last day of the assessment period).

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are examples of young people in a variety of situations and how they are affected by the changes.

Example 1

Sam is 19. She's currently living at home with her Mum and Dad.

She gets Income-Related ESA and PIP; standard daily living. In May 2017 she moved into a one bedroom flat in a Full or Digital service Universal Credit area. 

  • Sam will need to make a new claim for Universal Credit. As she is in exempt group - both being on daily living PIP and having a limited capability for work - she can get a Housing Costs Element to help her pay her rent. If in the future she is found fit for work and her PIP claim ends, then as long as she has a continuous claim for Universal Credit with a Housing Costs Element she will not lose her entitlement to assistance with paying her rent.

Example 2

Josh is 20 years old. He has been living in a one bedroom flat for 2 years.

He is currently looking for work and was getting Universal Credit under the Live or Gateway service. The Full or Digital service came to his area in March 2017 and in June 2017 the DWP contacted him to tell him he needs to move onto the Full/Digital service.

  • As long as he claims under the Full/Digital services before his Live or Gateway claim ends, he will continue to receive a Housing Costs Element in his Universal Credit. 
  • If he fails to claim Full or Digital Universal Credit (UC) when told to do so and there is a gap between his Live or Gateway claim and his Full or Digital claim starting, he will only continue to get a Housing Costs Element included if he fits into one of the exempt groups. 

Example 3

Natasha is 18 years old. Her parents forced her to leave home in July 2017 when they discovered she was pregnant.

She moved into a one bedroom flat in a Full or Digital service area and claims UC.

  • As she is unable to return home to live with her parents (the Local Authority is able to provide her with a letter confirming this) she is in one of the exempt groups and her UC award includes a Housing Costs Element. 

Example 4

Loulou is 20 years old. She has been getting UC in a Full or Digital service area for her privately rented flat.

However her landlord is not renewing her tenancy in September as he wishes to sell the property. Loulou has not been able to find anywhere else to live and so moves in with a friend. Six weeks later she is offered a one bedroom flat.

  • She will only be able to get a Housing Costs Element included in her UC for the flat if she fits into one of the exempt groups. This is because although she has been continuously on UC under the Full or Digital service, there has been a break in her claim including a Housing Costs Element after 1 April 2017.