Council house tenants on Universal Credit owe an average of two-and-a-half times as much in outstanding rent as claimants still on old benefits, and Townhall bosses warn they’re grappling to cope with the welfare overhaul, which sees housing benefit paid to tenants rather than direct to landlords as under the old regime.
Council tenants on Universal Credit owe on average £663 in rent, around two and a half times the amount owed by those still on housing benefit, £262, according to BBC Panorama, and in Flintshire, North Wales, the amount of rent owed to the council by people on the Government’s flagship welfare shake-up owe an average £1,424, six times the amount owed by those on housing benefit.
Flintshire has been a pilot for Universal Credit, with their other local authority co-workers presently coming into the full roll out of Universal Credit, and it’s been a bit of a mess.
The Government was advised difficulties could be unleashed over the housing benefit shake-up, and in 2011, Professor Paul Hickman, of Sheffield Hallam University, was asked by the Department of Work and Pensions to examine impacts of paying the money to claimants to pass on to landlords.
Recognising a growth in rent arrears, his investigation determined only 8 percent of tenants managed to pay their rent in full.
Professor Hickman told Panorama: “Were we ignored?
Some of what they said was listened to by the government but they were so committed to the course of rolling out Universal Credit, and whatever was uncovered in the investigation, the government were going to proceed to plough ahead anyhow.
The Department of Work and Pensions said more than 80 per cent of claimants are paid on time, and maintains there should be no problem with landlords getting rent payments. Meanwhile, a Resolution Foundation report shows Universal Credit is estimated to be more costly than the policy it succeeds thanks to reforms revealed in last month’s Budget.
Proposals announced by the Chancellor mean 200,000 more families will be better off due to the welfare reform, the think tank believes, and the moves announced by Philip Hammond will cut the number of working families losing out because of the changes from 3.2 million to three million.
Philip Hammond acted amid rising tension from Labour, Tory rebels and the Mirror’s Stop the Universal Credit Cruelty campaign.
The petition, launched in the run-up to the Government’s financial showpiece, set out three possibilities: redesign Universal Credit to be fit for purpose, axe it in support of the old system if Universal Credit is unfixable, or introduce a brand new system.
Universal Credit rolls six welfare benefits, child tax credit, Working Tax Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance and Housing Benefit, into one single payment. The roll-out is scheduled for completion in December 2023.
The difficulty is with these people getting into arrears because either Universal Credit are not paying them on time or they simply don’t pay it, then the Council’s and Housing Association will evict them, then we will find more families out on the streets with their children, I bet Social Services are rubbing their hands together.
And more than half of homeless families across England are in work but rising rents and the shortage of social housing is forcing more families into makeshift accommodation, and more than 33,000 families in temporary accommodation are holding down a job despite having nowhere permanent to live, a figure that has risen by 73 per cent since 2013, when it was 19,000 families.
One single mother, Mary Smith, who works full-time in a shoe shop said she and her three sons had been stuck in a cruel succession of precarious makeshift accommodation for two years after being evicted from their private property, and they have been unable to afford to rent anywhere else.
She’s amongst thousands of working households in low-paid, part-time or contract employment that are no longer able to afford rents and are therefore being forced into squalid and overpopulated makeshift accommodation.
Losing a tenancy is now the single biggest reason for homelessness in the country, accounting for more than a quarter of all households accepted as homeless in the last year. It comes following an investigation exposed at least 310,500 households in England have been waiting to be moved into social homes for more than half a decade, with more than 100,000 stuck on waiting lists for more than 10 years and some waiting for as many as 18 years.
With the country having a backlog of 3.91 million homes, meaning 340,000 new homes need to be constructed each year until 2031, a figure significantly greater than the government’s current target of 300,000 homes yearly.
Ms Smith and her three sons, now aged 18, 19 and 21, had lived in a privately rented home in Watford for 13 years when the landlord evicted them two years ago, forcing them to move into a hostel.
They were stuck in an absolute hovel of a rat-infested hostel, where food would get robbed. Ms Smith almost lost her job when they first became homeless because of transport connections to work that were so bad, and the family spent three months in the hostel before being relocated into temporary accommodation, and they have since been relocated to two other temporary properties, which Ms Smith said was destabilising for both her and her sons.
Despite working full-time and recently getting a wage rise, her pay is not enough to rent a property, and it’s like a vicious cycle for the family, living in properties that are freezing and have mould creeping up the walls with the uncertainty of their future.
Ms Smith’s children have had to go through a lot, which means that they haven’t been able to attain their full potential because there’s simply no safety net for them.
Ms Smith loves her job that she’s worked in for four and a half years, and she’s just accepted a 40 hour a week temporary to cover the manager, which meant that she got a pay rise, but she can’t see any benefit from the salary if it’s still not enough to secure a tenancy anywhere.
Getting a pay rise doesn’t make her any better off because it simply means she gets less help, and she still struggles to put food on the table, and she’s a proud person and doesn’t like asking for help, but it’s from the help of friends that they got through.
And it shocking that even when families are working every hour they can, they’re still being made to live through the austere reality of homelessness, and in many instances, these parents who work all day or night, then have to return to a crowded hostel or B&B where their whole family are made to share a room, a room that has no space for ordinary family things like cooking, playing or doing homework.
This was once a country where the streets were covered in gold, well at least in London, the land of opportunity, which is now slightly ironic because now we see streets that are dirty and poverty-stricken, and it’s appalling how we’re sinking back into the eighteenth century of Dick Whittington.
And we can’t let struggling families slide through the cracks created by our housing crisis because this isn’t the eighteenth century, and our government need to urgently come up with a new plan so that social housing can genuinely deliver the affordable homes that we so urgently require.
Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, but Theresa May said that the best way out of poverty was to work, she further said that she was going to make this country work for everyone, so what happened Theresa May?
But our government believe that they can justify their mismanagement by proposing new laws, well, it doesn’t actually work like that, but then they knowingly created this situation, and then they use guerilla tactics, then hit, run, and hide because they’re plagued with their own greed, the most single destructive human activity because with obsession you keep coming back to the same problem and they never come up with a solution.
And isn’t it strange how there are constantly reports in the newspapers about homelessness, but despite the statistics, the government will still tell you it’s not a problem.
Figures revealed that 4,751 people slept rough across England on any given night in 2017, with a 15 per cent rise compared to the previous year and that more than doubled in 2010. Last year 57,890 households were accepted as homeless in England, and in Scotland, 34,100 applications were assessed as homeless and in Wales 9,210 households were threatened with homelessness.
Our government doesn’t believe in social housing and they want it exclusively in the private sector, but the way they’re going about it leaves a sour taste because it chokes new social builds, stirs up the market for private landlords who like mortgage pawnshops are saying no thank you very much not because of arrears but because fair rent figures rarely corresponds with rent required when you have a tiny stock.
If you take these arrears, waiting times for benefits, social loans, incorrectly determined work capability tests, tribunal costs for reversal of decisions, sanctions, money spent on donating to food banks, provider contractors, et cetera, but what the government say they have saved and what is reality, is two different things.
In the meantime, a Resolution Foundation report shows that Universal Credit is set to be more costly than the system it succeeded thanks to changes revealed in last months Budget. It was never about saving hardworking taxpayers money, instead, it was all about an ideological class war started by the Tories against the working poor and those who don’t and can’t work for whatever reason.
So, when you get these Tory supporters backing the Tories, insisting it’s for the good of the taxpayer, they’re either exaggerating or they’ve fallen for the propaganda.
When people were on the old system, rent was paid straight to the landlord, but now it’s paid straight to the claimant who then has the responsibility to pay it to the landlord. Now, not everyone’s the same, some of these people have some kind of disability, and when I say disability, there is a broad spectrum of disabilities, not all disabilities are the same.
Countless people in our society have an addiction of one sort or another. I’m not sugar coating it, it’s a huge problem in our society, however, addiction is frequently linked to mental health problems, probably started as a way to cope with feelings that person felt and was powerless to deal with in any other way, therefore it then becomes a disability.
But some people are too keen to judge, and we’re all sinful of this at one time or another in our lives, accusing alcoholics and addicts of wasting their money on a fix rather than paying their rent, but actually people are getting into arrears because once they go onto Universal Credit they have to wait 5-6 weeks for their first payment.
That first payment, four weeks worth would then be only for the upcoming month, so those first 5-6 weeks will still be outstanding, so nothing to do with poor budgeting or that the money is paid to people and not direct to the landlords.
Yes, people could be setting up direct debits as soon as their rent money gets into their account and several do, but they would still be in arrears because they don’t get any money on Universal Credit for 5-6 weeks and during that time Housing Benefit is not paid into the claimants account, which makes them in arrears.
Of course, most or all of it is backdated but by that time they have been evicted or a seeking of possession order served to them, that’s enough to make you either go insane or turn to addiction.
Things have shifted quite a bit in the last ten years, but there appears to be a deficit of understanding or just a deficiency of interest where people are concerned, and things are much different for people, now that the benefits system has changed.
Benefits aren’t quite as plentiful as they were on the old system, plus the cost of living keeps going up, however, benefits have been suspended at the same rate or cut, and judging people based on when things were much better is why maybe some people out there get confused.
And there’s going to be more chaos and mess through the government’s narcissistic clowns in office due to this Universal Credit, and people are going to be in such a dangerous place and before long we will start hearing of more deaths and mass homelessness.
Sadly, the government’s ego comes before the fall, the problem is, they won’t back down on this Universal Credit debacle and it’s Joe Public that will take the fall for it.