Most tenants want housing benefit paid direct to landlord
Nine out of ten social housing tenants want their housing benefit to continue to be paid directly to their landlord a new study has shown.
Research, from consultancy Policis, as part of a national survey of 1,000 social housing tenants suggests that government plans to pay housing benefit straight to tenants as part of the introduction of Universal Credit are opposed by most tenants as well as landlords and lenders.
The survey, which was commissioned by Big Issue Invest, a financier of social enterprises, and drawn from tenants of three housing associations Affinity Sutton, Hyde and Riverside, found that 80 per cent thought the government’s proposal to pay housing benefit direct to tenants is a ‘bad idea’.
It showed that 35 per cent of tenants are not confident they would be able to keep up their rental payments – confirming fears of lenders that the stability of landlords’ rental income would be impacted by the changes.
As part of the governments’ benefit reforms, the Department for Work and Pensions has announced that housing benefit, will be paid out once-a-month to help people prepare for the working environment where people are paid monthly.
However, the report shows that 54 per cent of tenants believe these plans would make it more difficult for them to manage their money than at present under the fortnightly payments.
The research, supported by the National Housing Federation, found 71 per cent of social housing tenants received housing benefit with 92 per cent having their housing benefit paid to their landlord.
Keith Exford, chief executive of 56,000-home Affinity Sutton, said: ‘While we recognise that the payment of the housing element of the Universal Credit directly to residents supports the broad principles of financial inclusion and independence, this research highlights the very real concerns of our residents that removing this option will leave many households struggling to pay their rents and keep their homes.’
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘These polling results support the Federation’s position that preservation of customer choice should be a key principle of welfare reform.
‘They unequivocally show that tenants want to retain the ability to choose to have the housing element of their welfare payments paid direct to their landlords. The government should now confirm that customer choice will be retained in the design of the Universal Credit.’
Department for Work and Pensions minister Lord Freud is expected to set out further details of the government’s approach to payment of housing benefit under the universal credit when he addresses the National Housing Federation’s annual conference this morning.