Universal credit must not put pressure on PRS housing benefit claimants
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Universal Credit and also in Central Government, Housing
Universal Credit hits Wigan as "slow, safe and controlled" roll-out continues
The government should do its utmost to ensure that its flagship reform of the welfare system, universal credit, does not further increase the pressure on housing benefit claimants in the private rented sector, the British Property Federation has claimed.
The organisation claims that the "constantly shifting reform of welfare policy" has impacted heavily on the PRS - and is concerned the national roll out of UC has the "potential to increase this".
The BPF spoke out after Ministry of Justice statistics released last week revealed that there were 47,220 landlord possession claims issued in the first three months of this year – the highest quarterly figure in 10 years.
The overwhelming majority of these cases are from the social sector where policies such as the bedroom tax have increased pressure on tenancies.
The BPF is concerned that following changes to the delivery of the local housing allowance (LHA) and the imminent shift to UC, private landlords and tenants could be left uncertain of how policy changes will impact on them, and have a similar impact on tenancies in the PRS, which houses 25% of housing benefit claimants.
The federation has called on the Department for Work and Pensions to alleviate the concerns by setting out how it will proactively share housing benefit information with landlords in order that they can offer greater support to their tenants during the transition to UC.
Ian Fletcher, BPF director of policy, said: “Government has to recognise the vital role played by landlords in helping customers maintain their tenancies. Ensuing landlords are able to access reliable information on how successfully claimants are adjusting to Universal Credit will increase the probability of long and successful tenancies.
“The statistics from the Ministry of Justice show quite clearly the impact new policies can have on the rental market, while we support the ambitions of Universal Credit, the pilot schemes have shown that the policy has the potential to impact hardest on the most vulnerable tenants.”