MPs have considered the Government’s response to last week’s parliamentary defeat on Universal Credit following in an emergency debate in the Commons.
The Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Debbie Abrahams MP, called for direct payments of the housing element of UC to be made to the landlord, with John Redwood MP asked if Ministers were considering direct payments to landlords.
Work and Pensions Minister, Damian Hinds MP, said that such arrangements were in place.
He said: “Over a third of tenants in the social rented sector have that arrangement under Universal Credit right now. It is available for vulnerable claimants and for those whom that arrangement is important.”
Kevin Hollinrake MP said more needs to be done to let PRS landlords, as well as those in the social sector aware that they can apply for direct payments.
He said the government should; “make more people aware that rent can be paid directly to the landlords in the social housing and private rented sectors and to have more training and ownership for the people who work to deliver these benefits.”
Peter Aldous MP also talked about the importance of supporting the PRS.
He said: “Taking into account the debates we have had over the past few days, does he not agree that to make universal credit truly flexible and personalised but also fair, it is necessary to ensure that first payments are made far more quickly and that private sector landlords can set up alternative payment arrangements on the same basis as social landlords?”
The Minister responded: “We are continuing to improve processes, and that includes my hon. Friend’s point about ensuring that alternative payment arrangements in the private rented sector work as well as they can.”
RLA senior policy officer Natalie Williamson gave evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee examining the troubled roll out of Universal Credit last month.
And RLA directors David Smith and Chris Town met with Caroline Dinenage MP, the new Minister responsible for housing cost support at the DWP, to discuss issues including rent arrears and direct payments and present key research findings from the RLA’s welfare survey. The Minister and officials agreed to look closely at the RLA’s key concerns and report back
If you would like to know more about UC, the RLA also runs training course on Universal Credit offering in depth look at how the benefit operates, the impact on tenants and on landlords’ collection arrangements, rental income and arrears control.