The government announced yesterday that the full rollout of its Universal Credit welfare scheme has been delayed until at least 2024.
Originally beginning its rollout in 2013, Universal Credit (UC) was supposed to be fully operational by 2017 but a series of delays and ballooning costs have set the project back and it will now not be fully rolled out until 2024. This is the SEVENTH delay since the scheme’s initial proposal.
Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince said: “Universal Credit is the biggest change to the welfare system in a generation, bringing together six overlapping benefits into one monthly payment and offering support to some of the most vulnerable people in society.
“It is right that we revisit our forecasts and plan, and re-plan accordingly – ensuring that the process is working well for people on benefits.”
As well as delays, Universal Credit has been beset with criticism. The benefit is paid monthly, beginning after a five week mandatory waiting period, meaning that many recipients fall into debts and rent arrears in the waiting period.
Renters have been pushed into financial hardship, and some, to the brink of homelessness due to problems with the scheme such as cuts to funding, IT problems, late payments and of course, a complete lack of support when navigating the complex process of making a claim.
The criteria for landlords to receive the portion of UC designated for rent payments is also difficult to achieve, with both tenants and landlords having to jump through numerous hoops before demonstrating that this is the best course of action. This has left the most vulnerable renters in our society in rent arrears.
Recent research by the National Landlords Association (NLA) has shown that the number of landlords willing to accept UC tenants has taken a significant hit in recent years.
Meera Chindooroy, policy and public affairs manager at the NLA, said: “Our research shows that a decreasing proportion of landlords are letting to tenants in receipt of local housing allowance or Universal Credit, and that there is a wide variation across the country.”
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently published updated guidance for landlords with tenants in receipt of Universal Credit.
The information is designed to help understand what they can do to help their tenants prepare for their move to the single Universal Credit benefit payment and make rental payments directly to their landlord themselves.
It also explains what support is available for tenants who may need help moving to the new system.
Information on Alternative Payment Arrangements can be found here.
Guidance to service charges for landlords can be found here.If a tenant is having difficulty paying their rent, fill in the UC47 form to request payment of rent from a tenant’s Universal Credit.