UK's housing federations find that the universal credit system is causing debt, suffering and hardship for housing association tenants
Tenants on universal credit are more than twice as likely to be in arrears compared to all other tenants, according to research carried out by housing federations representing the UK's housing associations.
Based on survey results from 118 housing associations in England, Wales, and Scotland, the research reveals that universal credit tenants are in £24 million of rent arrears, with tenants on universal credit in England more than twice as likely to be in debt compared to all other tenants (73 per cent and 29 per cent respectively)
The National Housing Federation, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Community Housing Cymru and the Northern Irish Federation of Housing Associations highlight that 'fundamental flaws' still exist with Universal Credit and more can be done to limit the negative effects of associated benefits policies - including the two child policy and benefit cap.
Administrative issues come in for criticism - including delays caused by the current consent process when acting for tenants - that help drive tenants into debt or further debt.
As a result, the federations make key recommendations for government action, including to ;
Commenting on the findings, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation David Orr said -
'Today’s findings show that the government urgently needs to fix the fundamental flaws in universal credit. There are some very simple changes they need to make, like ensuring payments are made on time and allowing housing associations to easily negotiate on behalf of vulnerable tenants, so tenants get their money when they need it. If people aren’t receiving money on time, of course they’re being pushed in to debt. People depend on these vital payments.
But the government also needs to make bold decisions like amending the two child policy. Families across Great Britain with more than two children are finding themselves with the same amount of money whilst trying to provide the basics for more children.
Although the government has made some positive changes to universal credit that will make a difference to families, serious challenges remain and they urgently need to be sorted out.'
For more information see ‘Flawed’ universal credit is causing debt and hardship for families in social housing from the National Housing Federation website
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