Housing Payments Not Fit For Purpose
NRLA Chief Executive Ben Beadle has called for an overhaul of local housing payments in the PRS while giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.
Ben told the committee the Discretionary Housing Payment is not fit for purpose and said changes are needed to ensure Universal Credit works as intended.
He said payments must cover claimants’ rents and said that direct payments to landlords should be by default, rather than offered after problems have arisen.
He also flagged long term issues with the system, including the five-week wait for initial payments, which are made in arrears leaving tenants on the back foot from the start.
He said the DWP needs to do more to proactively engage with landlords negotiating the system and warned tenants would be left unable to pay their rent if the Government continued to freeze local housing payments in future.
Ben was called to give evidence to the committee on the impact of Local Housing Allowance, and wider issues around housing supply and rent arrears, along with representatives from Crisis and Bristol City Council.
He also used the opportunity to promote the NRLA’s calls for a package of financial support for the sector to avert a rent debt crisis in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He quoted independent research of renters carried out by Dynata on behalf of the NRLA, which found 7% of tenants had built rent arrears since lockdown measures started in March 2020 which are still to be paid off. (insert link) This is despite 82% of these tenants paying their rent in full before lockdown.
Highlighting support across the board for a ringfenced cash pot to help landlords and tenants he said: “There is a universal cross-sector support for a package of grants and loans. The only person that doesn’t agree is the Chancellor.”