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Daily politics update: select committee chairs, Universal Credit direct payments

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

Today’s update looks at the MPs elected as chairs of their Select Committees and a call made by an MP for the housing element of Universal Credit to be paid directly to landlords.

Select Committee

The following MPs have been elected as chairs of their Select Committees unopposed following the passing of yesterday’s 4pm deadline for nominations:

•           Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee: Clive Betts MP (Labour, Sheffield South East – Former HCLG Select Committee Chair)

•           Public Accounts Committee: Meg Hillier MP (Labour, Hackney South and Shoreditch  – Former PAC Chair)

•           Home Affairs Select Committee (covering the Right to Rent): Yvette Cooper MP (Labour, Normanton, Castleford and Pontefract – Former Shadow Home Secretary)

•           Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee (covering energy efficiency matters): Rachel Reeves MP (Labour, Leeds West – Former BEIS Select Committee Chair)

•           Treasury Select Committee: Mel Stride MP (Conservative, Central Devon – Former Financial Secretary to the Treasury)

MP Calls for Housing Element of Universal Credit to be Paid Directly to Landlords in DWP Questions

A Labour MP has called for the housing element of universal credit to be paid directly to landlords in order to help address homelessness. The comment came during oral questions to ministers from the DWP.

Toby Perkins MP (Labour, Chesterfield) told the Commons:

“Anyone who has visited a food bank or has met homeless people on their streets will know that welfare policy is the No.1 reason for the appalling rate of homelessness in our towns. As a simple starting point, if the housing element of universal credit were paid to landlords, we could make a start towards ending the appalling problem of homelessness that welfare policy is currently inflicting on our streets.”

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Dr Therese Coffey MP responded that the housing element already could be paid to landlords.

Also of note from the question session:

Meg Hillier MP (Labour, Hackney South and Shoreditch – Chair of the Public Accounts Committee) asked whether the Department would look at raising local housing allowance rates. Dr Coffey responded to confirm that there was already going to be an increase in the rate from April 2020.

Justin Madders MP (Labour, Ellesmere Port and Neston) asked ministers about the effectiveness of universal credit. Will Quince MP, the Minister, responded to say that UC had brought more people into work and that the Government was looking at how to move people safely onto UC from legacy benefits.

Yvonne Fovargue MP (Labour, Makerfield) then asked what impact UC had had on the personal finances of claimants. Dr Coffey said that UC is more generous overall than legacy benefits by £2 billion a year. She added that it ensures people take home more of their earned income and supports those who can to work more hours. Ms Fovargue then asked what the Government was doing to help claimants who were in debt. Dr Coffey said that the Government works with the Money and Pensions Service to make debt advice available for those who need it.

Kevin Hollinrake MP (Conservative, Thirsk & Malton) asked about the four-weekly payment cycle, and suggested that the cycle means that someone will be paid twice in one month every year, which would affect their UC claim. Mr Quince said that the Government was looking into how to improve the system but that UC was paid in the same ways that the majority of employees are paid.

Stephen Timms MP (Labour, East Ham) suggested that the five-week wait for UC was contributing to food bank use and asked that ministers look at shortening that delay. Mr Quince repeated his claim from previous written answers that no-one has to wait five weeks for their first payment and that claimants could get a payment on day one through an advance payment. A transcript of the session is available to read here.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

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