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News: Call for Universal Credit overhaul as many claimants fall into rent arrears

Fri, 08 Feb 19

Half the people seeking help with their Universal Credit claim are in rent arrears, according to Citizens Advice.

More generous advance loans for new claimants and an additional two weeks of housing benefit while they wait for universal credit payments to start were among the measures introduced by the government last year to address concerns that universal credit was pushing tenants into arrears.

But with new the report published by Citizens Advice showing 49% of those it helps with Universal Credit are in arrears on their housing payments, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) believes that further reform is needed.

Chris Town, vice chair of the RLA, said: “Today’s report demonstrates the need for more changes to be made to Universal Credit.

“One of the main drivers of rent arrears has been that tenants cannot routinely choose to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord at the start of a claim. Many tenants prefer to have the assurance that their rent is paid and their right to do this should be introduced immediately.

“This needs to be coupled with lifting the freeze on housing benefits and the housing element of Universal Credit. Housing cost support is simply not keeping up with the realities of rents in the private sector, despite them falling in real terms over the past year.”

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