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Universal Credit: Government criticised in new housing report

‘Good, professional landlords’ are being put off renting to benefits claimants as a direct result of problems around the government’s administration of Universal Credit, according to a new report.

Some landlords are deterred by long delays to initial housing benefit payments and with managing Universal Credit, in particular where tenants fall into arrears, according to the report, by housing policy expert Dr Julie Rugg for the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy.

The NRLA is currently campaigning for widespread improvements to the benefits system to help tenants and landlords have confidence in the system.

It is calling for:

Increased Local Housing Allowance Rates, aligned at the 30th percentile as a minimum
An end to the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments at the beginning of a claim
Advance payments currently made as loans to be converted to grants
The current £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit to be retained
The development of long-lease schemes between local authorities and landlords to mitigate perceived risks in terms of rent payments.
Ben Beadle, NRLA chief executive said: “Every tenant’s circumstance is different and as such they should be treated as individuals with their circumstances assessed on a case-by-case basis, based on their ability to sustain a tenancy. Blanket bans should not be imposed.

“However, the Government needs to play its part and make positive changes to ensure that benefits payments will cover rents in full and give landlords the confidence that they system works.

“This should include reversing the decision to freeze housing benefit rates in cash terms and ending the five-week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit.

“Tenants should also be allowed to choose at the outset of their claim, if they want the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord.

“There also needs to be a renewed focus on developing new social housing, alongside the private rented sector.”

Blog Post from NRLA

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