Ask CPAG Online - How should you apply for a UC Alternative Payment Arrangement?

This section looks at how you should apply for a universal credit (UC) Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA).

There are no rules or law about this and essentially it is a matter of making your request to the DWP with the appropriate information and evidence.

DWP guidance is set out in the Personal Budgeting Support and Alternative Payment Arrangements: Guidance.

See When can you get an Alternative Payment Arrangement? for the criteria you need to meet.

Note that the DWP can also make APAs without an application, where, for example, they have information from you, your representative or your landlord which suggests that an APA is appropriate.  

When can you apply for an APA?

You can ask for an APA at any time during your UC claim. This could be when you have your initial interview with a DWP 'work coach' after you have submitted your claim, or at any subsequent point during your claim. Note that the DWP will not start more frequent than monthly payments until the end of your first assessment period.

How should an application be made?

You can apply in person (e.g. when talking to your DWP work coach or going to your local jobcentre).

You can also ring the UC Helpline on 0800 328 5644 (textphone 0800 328 1344).

Alternatively, you can apply in writing by sending a letter to the UC office dealing with your claim, or by completing form UC129 which you can download here and sending it to the UC Post Handling Site B, Wolverhampton, WV99 1AJ.

A landlord can apply for direct ('managed') payments by contacting the UC Helpline (see above), or downloading and submitting form UC47 by email or post. Note that there are two versions of the form, depending on whether the landlord has a 'secure email address' and it is important to use the correct version to avoid delays. For details see p7 of the Guidance. Attachments sent with the non-secure version of the form may not be opened by the DWP and can result in delays or rejection of an application.

You may want to check that your application has been received and is being dealt with after a few days (particularly if you made your application in person or by telephone) by ringing the UC Helpline, and may need to 'chase up' the DWP for a decision within a reasonable period.

What evidence should you provide?

You will need to explain why you need an APA when you make your application. You should be ready to state your grounds if you apply in person or by telephone, or set them out in writing in your letter or in the box provided on form UC129. Supporting evidence from, for example, a support worker, social worker or landlord could help your case, depending on the circumstances.

See When can you get an Alternative Payment Arrangment? for details of the criteria you will need to satisfy. If your circumstances are covered by the Guidanceyou could point this out, but otherwise you could refer to the law and show why an APA would help you and be in the best interests of yourself and  / or your family. 

Where you, or your landlord, is requesting a 'managed payment', the DWP will normally require proof of your rent arrears (e.g. a rent book or rent statement showing the amount of rent payable and the amount outstanding) and a full breakdown of how the arrears have been calculated and over what period. 

Who decides your application?

Decisions are made by 'UC Agents', normally a DWP decision maker or work coach, on behalf of he Secretary of State. There are no rules about how you and when you should be notified, but common law and the proper exercise of discretion requires that you receive adequate notification and explanation within a reasonable time.

See What problems can arise with Alternative Payment Arrangements? if you are unhappy with the process or decision.