Tenants have been plunged into rent arrears after the introduction of a controversial new welfare regime – and now council bosses are asking the UK Government for compensation
Musselburgh was chosen as the first area in Scotland to pilot the full digital roll-out of the new Universal Credit (UC), which replaces six other benefits and was intended to simplify the system but has been criticised for making it more complex.
And a report by East Lothian Council reveals a 22 per cent increase in rent arrears among UC claimants in just three months, with the average amount owed almost £900.
Council leader Willie Innes said: “Almost from the start of the new system we became aware of delays being experienced by claimants. The length of time some people were left waiting for payments meant they were experiencing considerable financial hardships.
“The council had established key teams of staff to help advise on the new system but the delayed payments to tenants has also resulted in delayed rent and council tax payments.
“As the introduction of Universal Credit has resulted in significant loss of income to the council we are seeking financial recompense from the UK Government. We are also asking the Scottish Government to take immediate steps to use its powers to have the housing cost element of Universal Credit paid directly to landlords.”