Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Universal credit landlord concerned by rising debt

The housing association at the heart of the first universal credit pathfinder has expressed concern about rising levels of tenant debt.

New Charter Housing Trust Group, which manages homes within the Ashton-under-Lyne pathfinder, said it has seen a 29 per cent rise in people contacting its financial support team in the last year, and a 19 per cent rise in the total amount of debt referred.

On average tenants referred to the Moneycare service have £8,400 of debt.

The figures date from before the start of the universal credit pilot last month, but New Charter chief executive Ian Munro said he is worried about rising levels of tenant debt as a result of the government’s welfare reforms.

He said: ‘These figures show very real hardship across our communities and, whilst we will continue to support our residents in every single way that we can, we need government support to continue to make a difference.

‘The bedroom tax could cost tenants an extra £88 a month but other reforms will make it more difficult for them to manage their money overall.

‘We should be helping people who are in debt, not making money matters more confusing or difficult to manage.’

Under the bedroom tax, working age social tenants receiving housing benefit have their payments cut if they have spare rooms. Housing associations contacted by Inside Housing have said they are already seeing arrears mount up following the introduction of the penalty at the start of April, with some reporting around 50 per cent of affected tenants are failing to cover the shortfall in their rent payments.

Universal credit, which is due to be rolled out across the UK from October, will combine a range of benefits including housing benefit into a single monthly payment that goes direct to the tenant. At present some benefits are paid weekly, with housing benefit often going straight to the landlord.

Readers' comments (11)

Comments are only open to subscribers of Inside Housing

Already a subscriber?

If you're already a subscriber to Inside Housing, please sign in to your account to view comments and add your own.

Not yet a subscriber?

If you don't yet subscribe to Inside Housing, please visit our subscription page to view our various subscription packages.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Newsletter Sign-up

Related

Articles

  • Free webinar on universal credit

    4 March 2015

    Housing professionals can attend a free online event this Friday in which leading experts will share strategies to mitigate the impact of universal credit on landlords’ income.

  • Landlord plans own universal credit pilot

    23 September 2014

    Coastline Housing is planning its own pilot of universal credit in an attempt to assess the ‘real impact’ of the flagship benefit reform.

  • Universal credit help scheme trialled

    4 September 2014

    Assessments and guidance aim to prevent tenants falling into arrears

  • Nearly 6,000 people on universal credit

    14 May 2014

    Statistics on universal credit pilots, released today, show that between April 2013 and the end of February 2014, a total of 5,910 people started claiming universal credit.

  • Robustness of universal credit questioned by committee

    9 April 2014

    Concerns have been raised today by a committee over the millions being spent on universal credit when there is no certainty that it will be ready for the delayed roll-out.

IH Subscription