Faster mortgage support for Universal Credit claimants – what it means for you

If you claim Universal Credit, you can now get quicker support with paying your mortgage. We look at when you can get it and how to access it

Mortgage due calendar date reminder circle
(Image credit: Getty images)

Around 200,000 people who claim Universal Credit will have access to quicker support with paying their mortgages from today.

A Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan helps you make interest payments for a mortgage, or make certain home improvements worth up to £200,000 while you are on Universal Credit.  

The change to the scheme today means those eligible will be able to access help towards mortgage interest on their home loan or certain home improvements after three months on Universal Credit - rather than nine months. 

They will no longer have to be unemployed to qualify either.

The change is part of the government’s wider plans to help people with the cost-of-living crisis and will help people who are struggling due to financial issues and rising mortgage rates

As many as 356,000 mortgage borrowers could face payment difficulties by the end of June 2024, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Today’s news comes amid new FCA guidance for lenders with struggling mortgage customers: the regulator has made clear it expects lenders to help support borrowers who have missed payments or are worried they may not be able to make payments in future.

The monthly cost of a new mortgage rose by 61% in the year to December 2022 for the average semi-detached house in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.  

Mims Davies, Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression, said that “The fear of losing your home when you have fallen on difficult times is incredibly stressful and makes getting back on your feet all the more difficult.

“This increased support is an important lifeline to help provide stability for those who are seeking to find work and move back towards long-term prosperity.”

Am I eligible for a Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan and how do I claim it?

Under the previous rules, you had to be unemployed for nine months to access the support, but this has been reduced to three months.

In an additional change, you will not have to be unemployed to access support.

You can also reclaim the support if you leave Universal Credit but return within six months.

You do not need to do anything to claim the offer – the loans will be automatically offered to claimants by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you qualify after three months on Universal Credit.

If you reject the offer of a loan initially, you can start claiming it at any point - as long as you are still eligible.

When you sell your home, the loan must be repaid - but no one will ever be asked to sell their home to repay it. 

While the loan must be paid back when you sell it, it is possible to transfer it to a new property. If you want to transfer the loan to a new home, you can speak to the DWP about this.

Further reading on mortgages