Rent arrears, evictions and food bank use are soaring in areas where universal credit has been rolled out, new figures have revealed.
The raft of figures sheds new light on the impact of the Government’s flagship welfare policy.
The number of claimants using universal credit (UC) in the UK is set to double this year, with more than seven million people – both in and out of work – expected to be registered by 2022.
News obtained figures from the National Housing Federation (NHF) which show 73% of housing association tenants on universal credit are in rent arrears, compared to 29% of those not on universal credit.
The results were based on a survey to which 43 housing associations nationwide responded, with one undisclosed group suggesting 90% of their UC tenants were in arrears.
Catherine Ryder, head of policy at the NHF, said they are “very concerned” about the findings, saying the system has “fundamental flaws” which need to be fixed.
“The initial five week waiting time, repeated decision-making errors and high level of deductions taken directly from people’s benefits to pay off their debt, is causing distress and financial hardship for many families,” she added.
“Recent changes to Universal Credit will make a considerable difference to claimants, but the Government must continue modifying the system to ensure it doesn’t leave tenants at risk of debt and poverty or leave housing associations with arrears that threaten their financial stability.”
The number of claimants using the system in the UK is set to double in 2018, with more than seven million people – both in and out of work – expected to be registered on the system by 2022.
Universal Credit merges existing benefits into a single system – removing the cliff edge between unemployment and work with tapered payments to smooth the transition.
Administered online, with housing benefit going to the claimant not the landlord, the system aims to replicate the responsibilities expected of working people, with a minimum five week gap between claim and payment, and sanctions if requirements are not met.
Sky News has also been provided with interim findings from the latest member poll conducted by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
The findings show 62% of private landlords are unwilling to lease to Universal Credit claimants – a figure unchanged from previous surveys despite Government concessions to make it easier for landlords to have housing support paid directly to them in the event of a UC tenant being in arrears.
Of those who are renting to people on the new benefit, the RLA/PEARL survey found nearly a third had needed to evict a Universal Credit claimant in the last 12 months, and in 77% of those cases, this was a result of rent arrears, up from 64% last year.
A spokesman for the RLA said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“We understand the Government’s objective to promote and encourage financial responsibility, but we continue to believe that tenants receiving UC know better than the Government what is in their own financial interest.
“For many, opting to have payments made directly to their landlords would be the financially responsible thing to do.
“They then have the security of knowing that their rent is paid and can budget for the rest of their money accordingly.
“We strongly believe that all tenants should be given the right to choose direct payment to the landlord and be trusted to make such decisions themselves, as they now are in Scotland.
“Whilst significant challenges remain in how Universal Credit is being delivered, we do not believe these are insurmountable.
“Ministers have shown themselves ready to listen and respond to concerns and we are optimistic about the on-going positive and constructive discussions we are having with the Department for Work and Pensions.”
New data released today by the UK’s largest food bank network has shown that food bank usage in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out went up by 52% in the first 12 months of the new system, an increase four times higher than in areas it has yet to be introduced.
The data compiled by the Trussell Trust also showed its network distributed 1,332,952 three-day emergency food supplies this year, a 13% increase on the previous year.
London has experienced the most significant increase in foodbank usage in the last 12 months, up 20%, while the North West remains the region with the greatest demand, with 197,182 food parcels handed out last year, of which 74,577 were for children.
As a result of the findings, the Trussell Trust has called on the Government to launch an urgent inquiry into the “poor administration” of Universal Credit, and uprate benefit levels in line with inflation, to ensure payments keep pace with the cost of living.
Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“As a nation we expect no one should be left hungry or destitute – illness, disability, family breakdown or the loss of a job could happen to any of us, and we owe it to each other to make sure sufficient financial support is in place when we need it most.
“Universal Credit is the future of our benefits system.
“It’s vital we get it right, and ensure levels of payment keep pace with the rising cost of essentials, particularly for groups of people we know are already more likely to need a food bank – disabled people, people dealing with an illness, families with children and single parents.”
Universal Credit’s roll-out has been delayed, but demands from opposition parties for it to be paused have been refused.
A Department of work and pensions spokesperson said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“The best way to help a person pay their rent is to help them find work, and Universal Credit is succeeding at getting people into work faster, and helping them stay in work longer.
“Our research shows that many people join Universal Credit with pre-existing arrears, but the proportion of people with arrears falls by a third after four months.
“We have made a number of improvements already, including making 100% advance payments, including housing costs, available from day one, and introducing 2 weeks additional rent payment for people joining UC from Housing Benefit.
“Landlords can also apply to have rent paid directly to them if their tenants are in arrears.”
Despite insisting on continuing with the roll-out, a number of significant changes have been made to the benefit as a result of pressure and complaints.
These are the changes:
:: The claimant hotline is now free of charge
:: 18-21 year olds are no longer exempt from housing assistance
:: Landlords can now request direct rent payments unilaterally if two months of rent arrears are accrued
:: The minimum wait period for first payment has been reduced from six to five weeks
:: Housing benefit will now continue for the first two weeks between a claim and first payment.
This article was Posted By DJXBAZZ
kindly AddUp DJXBAZZ ||Lovablevibes On whatsapp:-[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]08065200003 or Call This Number  For Negotiable & Promotion Of Your Song On Many Blogs, Also Followers Djxbazz On Social Network : Instagram/Twitter:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]@iam_djxbazz
[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip][tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip][tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip][tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip][tooltip type=”box” html=”Input Your Content Here” box_background_color=”#eeeeee” box_opacity=”0.95″ box_padding=”10″ box_border_color=”#3F3F3F” box_border_width=”1″ box_border_radius=”0″ id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac” /]