Rent arrears for Universal Credit tenants remain ‘stubbornly high’

The National Federation of ALMOs and the Association of Retained Council Housing voice strong concerns at government’s plans to accelerate the roll-out of UC.

In a joint report, the NFA and ARCH are calling on government to halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) and remove the seven day wait period for new claims.

The report, ‘Pause for Thought – Measuring the impact of welfare reform on tenants and landlords 2017 survey results’ has tracked the impact of welfare reforms on landlords and tenants.

The report states that “clearly the problems associated with the UC roll-out identified in previous research remain unresolved.”

Almost four years on from the initial introduction of UC in October 2013 research shows delays in the UC assessment process, poor communications between DWP and landlords, and the seven day wait period continue to cause significant problems to both landlords and their tenants.

Other issues such as digital access also present problems for 50 to 65-year-old claimants.

Key findings include:

  • Tenant rent arrears among UC claimants remain stubbornly high at 73%, a total cost of £6.68m
  • Families with no previous history of rent arrears are being driven into debt, with 40% of households accumulating rent arrears as a consequence of claiming UC
  • Households already struggling with rent payments are being driven deeper into debt as the average arrears amount for UC claimants has increased from £611.73 ( March 2016)  to £772.21 (March 2017).

In general its members support the principles of UC and appreciate the value of encouraging individual responsibility; having introduced a variety of initiatives and projects to support tenants into work.

Councils and landlords are also developing innovative practices including triage systems and employing additional support workers to identify and prioritise those households in greatest need.

However, it is clear that support provided to tenants by landlords alone is not sufficient to resolve the problems being experienced and is not scalable as the roll-out accelerates across the country and many more families and children become a part of the Universal Credit system.

To date, councils and landlords have borne the costs of providing essential support to tenants transitioning onto UC.

Whilst this has been manageable in small numbers (currently roll-out stands at 2.6% of our tenants) the level and intensity of support needed can not be sustained by landlords alone as the roll-out is set to increase rapidly over the course of 2017/18.

Eamon McGoldrick, managing director, NFA says: ‘We are strongly urging government/DWP to halt the roll-out of UC and ‘Pause for thought’ – until the system works properly for both claimants and landlords.

read more here: http://www.24housing.co.uk/news/calls-to-halt-roll-out-of-uc/

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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/

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

 

The Grenfell Tower fire was the end result of a disdainful housing policy

The people who lived in Grenfell Tower should be writing this article. But those who died cannot tell their stories, and those who survived are still dealing with their trauma. The residents had tried for so many years but were silenced by a system that prevented them from being heard. The most persistent were threatened with legal action for defamation which had the effect of discrediting their claims of neglect and mismanagement. It’s only now that people are listening – when it’s too late.

I worked with a group of residents living in Grenfell Tower through my involvement with the Radical Housing Network, a network of housing campaigns across London. The first meeting of tenants in early 2015 was attended by around 100 residents. Each spoke of the historical neglect of the building, of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) failing to undertake basic but vital maintenance or improvements. Residents recounted incidents such as disturbing power surges in which appliances “blew up”.

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/20/grenfell-fire-housing-policy-social-housing-tenants?CMP=share_btn_fb

The Unwritten Battles of Receiving Disability Benefits Long-Term

…..

“I can control nothing.

I am a long-term sick and disabled single woman. I have four children. I can’t work and will never be able to in a full time sense again. I’m on state benefits. There’s a huge stigma to that fact, despite my best efforts to shake it. I’m a well-educated, smart, sometimes articulate woman who’s fought hard for every last thing, and I’m tired. I’m so tired of fighting for everything, every right I allegedly have. I’m tired of every single thing being a battle. It’s so hard being in my situation; I can’t even explain the constant conflict with the various agencies I deal with, aside from the battles with the general public and their ill informed opinions of people like me.”

Read the full blog post here: https://themighty.com/2017/05/being-on-disability-single-mom/

 

Young couple with no money, no bed and no home forced to sleep in tiny tent in field

Jade Macey, 20, and Lewis Godfrey, 19, have spent the last week bedding down in a field because they don’t have ID documents to show to the council

young couple have been forced to bed down in a tiny tent in a field because they have no home , no bed, and no money.

The pair claim they have received no help after they were unable to present their ID documents to the council because of a rift with their families, which means they can’t go home.

Jade Macey and Lewis Godfrey have been sleeping for the past couple of months in a field in Bishopsworth, south Bristol, near to Lewis’s former family home.

Neighbours are rallying round the couple, providing them with somewhere to store their camping gear during the day, and to use bathroom facilities and hot drinks.

Jade, 20, and Lewis, 19, have both ended up without a home because of family breakdowns – the most common reason why young people end up homeless, reports the Bristol Post.

After months of sofa-surfing, sleeping on friends’ floors and even snatching a few minutes’ sleep in 24-hour McDonald’s restaurants, the couple settled on a tent in the field around a week ago.

read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/young-couple-no-money-no-10407877#ICID