Revealed: universal credit sends rent arrears soaring

Housing chiefs’ warning on effect of flagship Tory welfare reform

Ministers are coming under intense pressure to put the brakes on the government’s flagship welfare reform programme, following damning new evidence that it is leaving thousands of low-paid workers unable to pay their rent and at risk of homelessness.

The Observer can reveal a catalogue of concerns from landlords, councils and charities about universal credit, which have been handed to a parliamentary inquiry investigating the programme.

With the accelerated roll-out of the new system just weeks away, some warn that rent arrears among tenants receiving universal credit are running at three, four or even five times the level of those on the old system. Three councils whose tenants have already been moved on to universal credit said they had built up about £8m in rent arrears. Croydon, Hounslow and Southwark said that more than 2,500 tenants claiming it were now at risk of eviction.

Some food banks reported that marriages had broken down as a result of the extra pressures of waiting for payments, while some landlords are now choosing not to accept tenants on universal credit.

Figures obtained by the Observer under the Freedom of Information Act also show that half of all council tenants across 105 local authorities who receive the housing element of universal credit – which replaces housing benefit – are at least a month behind on their rent, with 30% two months behind.

By contrast, less than 10% of council tenants on housing benefit are a month behind on their rent, with under 5% running more than two months behind.

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/16/universal-credit-rent-arrears-soar?

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More suffering at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre

I’m not going to bother you with talking about the weather, I’ve said it in today’s blog title. It was raining AGAIN. Will we ever get a break, and have some good weather for once? My heart went out to Richard, a homeless chap who I buy a cuppa for most mornings and chat to. […]

via A hard morning. A man crying, rain pouring. It’s supposed to be August. — The poor side of life

I dropped out of society to save my sanity: My Wigan Pier Story

As part of our Road to Wigan Pier 2017 project, 80 years on from the publication of George Orwell’s essay, rough sleeper, Raymond Slater explains how sleeping rough saved his sanity
Raymond Slater, 55, has been homeless for the last 15 years and is currently living in Manchester. After struggling to manage on benefits, he dropped out of the system to ‘save his dignity’. As he tells Claire Donnelly, he has never been happier.

I spent years trying to find work, going to interviews, signing on and it was a constant stress. I was living with the worry of not having any money, paying the bills, fear of losing my flat and it was just a horrible way to live.

The system tells you all the time that it’s your fault, that you aren’t doing enough but there just weren’t any jobs there. I’d done stuff like security or working in supermarkets in the past and I was applying for up to three jobs a day but there wasn’t anything.

You can’t get a job if they’re not there.

I was trying to run a house on £50 a week and it’s hard. So I decided to leave it all behind. I got on a bus and got out of there. Now I don’t even sign on. I’ve got a bike and my rucksack and I can find places to eat and get washed.

read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/dropped-out-society-save-sanity-10782292

 

100 tenants a day lose homes as rising rents and benefit freeze hit

Charities demand action to tackle toll of soaring housing costs, welfare cuts and ‘no fault’ evictions.

A record number of renters are being evicted from their homes, with more than 100 tenants a day losing the roof over their head, according to a shocking analysis of the nation’s housing crisis. The spiralling costs of renting a property and a long-running freeze to housing benefit are being blamed for the rising number of evictions among Britain’s growing army of tenants.

More than 40,000 tenants in England were evicted in 2015, according to a study by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). It is an increase of a third since 2003 and the highest level recorded. The research appears to confirm fears that a mixture of rising costs and falling state support would lead to a rise in people being forced out of their homes. It will raise concerns that even those in work are struggling to pay their rent.

High numbers of “no-fault” evictions by private landlords is driving the increase. More than 80% of the extra evictions had occurred under a Section 21 notice, which gives a tenant two months to leave. The landlord does not have to give a reason and there does not need to be any wrongdoing on the part of the tenant.

read more here: http://www.welfareweekly.com/100-tenants-a-day-lose-homes-as-rising-rents-and-benefit-freeze-hit/

Number of homeless children in temporary accommodation rises 37%

Councils across England are providing temporary housing for around 120,540 children with their families – a net increase of 32,650

Councils across England are housing the equivalent of an extra secondary school of pupils per month as the number of homeless children in temporary accommodation soars, according to local government leaders.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils are providing temporary housing for around 120,540 children with their families – a net increase of 32,650 or 37% since the second quarter of 2014.

It said the increase equates to an average of 906 extra children every month.

The LGA said placements in temporary accommodation can present serious challenges for families, from parents’ employment and health to children’s ability to focus on school studies and form friendships. The LGA, which represents 350 councils across England, said the extra demand is increasing the pressure on local government.

It said councils need to be able to build more “genuinely affordable” homes and provide the support that reduces the risk of homelessness. This means councils being able to borrow to build and to keep 100% of the receipts of any home they sell to reinvest in new and existing housing, the LGA said.

Council leaders are also calling for access to funding to provide settled accommodation for families that become homeless.

Martin Tett, the LGA’s housing spokesman, said: “When councils are having to house the equivalent of an extra secondary school’s worth of pupils every month, and the net cost for councils of funding for temporary accommodation has tripled in the last three years, it’s clear the current situation is unsustainable for councils, and disruptive for families.

Read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/22/number-of-homeless-children-in-temporary-accommodation-rises-37?

The displaced tenants paying the true cost of an inhumane housing policy

Councils must commit to a more humane, thoughtful and cost-effective social housing policy than moving people away from jobs and homes

Moving halfway across the country when you are already vulnerable causes huge emotional and health problems.

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/dec/02/human-cost-benefits-cap-tenants-shunted-england-councils