Campaigns Welfare Reform and Homelessness

Universal Credit win for RLA as Gauke extends direct payments

universal credit
Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

The Government has listened to the RLA on Universal Credit – with Work and Pensions minister David Gauke today confirming tenants who currently have housing benefit paid directly to their landlord can continue when switching to UC.

The announcement follows a long-term campaign by the RLA, which has been fighting for reforms to make the system fairer for tenants and landlords alike.

Responding to the announcement RLA Vice Chair, Chris Town, said: “This is a welcome change and will mean that tenants who choose, can be secure that their rent has been paid and landlords have the confidence to rent out housing to those claiming benefits.

“It is good to know that Ministers have clearly listened to the concerns of landlords and tenants.”

The RLA has also welcomed the scrapping of the seven-day wait for claimants to apply for Universal Credit which will help avoid some tenants getting into arrears – an issue the RLA has raised with the minister.

Putting meat on the bones on of yesterday’s budget announcement on Universal Credit it was revealed the Government will also slow down the rollout – although the final completion date will remain the same.

The RLA held high level talks with the Department for Work and Pensions on Universal Credit – meeting with Caroline Dinenage MP, the Minister responsible for housing cost support at the Department for Work and Pensions, to discuss rent arrears and direct payments.

It also presented key research findings from the RLA’s welfare survey.

In addition the association gave evidence to a Government select committee on the flaws in the current rollout earlier this autumn.

The committee was told warning signs were already there with a 10 percentage point increase in rent arrears in just a year from 27% in 2016 to 38% in 2017 since housing costs were paid directly to the tenant under Universal Credit.

It further warned that ultimately PRS landlords would no longer rent to tenants on benefits if the system wasn’t urgently improved.

The changes to the Universal Credit system are among a raft of welfare reforms backed by the association announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

While welcoming the announcement the RLA will continue to campaign for further positive reform.

  • The RLA runs a course on Universal Credit including information on how the benefit is assessed and paid, changes that will affect the award and payments, rental income and rent arrears control, which will be updated to reflect the new changes.

For information and to book click here.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

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