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Roll out of Universal Credit having an impact on homelessness in Rugby

November 12, 2017 9:01 PM
By Rugby Lib Dems

Universal CreditAt a Rugby Borough Council Scrutiny Committee meeting on Monday 6 November 2017 it was confirmed that the roll out of Universal Credit is having an impact on homelessness in Rugby.

Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits (Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance; Income-related Employment and Support Allowance; Income Support; Child Tax Credit; Working Tax Credit; Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance). The new system is based on a single monthly payment (rather than every two weeks) paid in arrears directly to a bank account. Payments include all eligible housing costs meaning that claimants are responsible for paying their rent themselves.

The Scrutiny Committee meeting involved a discussion with portfolio holders where Councillors were invited to submit questions in advance. Universal Credit was the main issue raised by Councillors.

Liberal Democrats Councillor, Tim Douglas (Paddox Ward), asked the Communities and Homes portfolio holder whether the roll out of Universal Credit and the minimum wait for first payments is having an impact on homelessness in Rugby.

The response was clear - yes there is an impact and further details are needed to look at why it is taking so long for claimants to receive payments and why Trusted Partner status in Rugby was refused.

Commenting after the meeting, Cllr Tim Douglas, said:

"There is a high level of rent arrears among people receiving Universal Credit, so it's vital that Rugby Borough Council works closely with Universal Credit Work Coaches to ensure that claimants are getting the best advice and support they need. Direct payments to landlords have been introduced in Scotland where claimants can also choose to be paid either monthly or twice monthly, and this is something the UK Government could look at to try and alleviate some of the problems people are facing. At the meeting I was encouraged to hear that the portfolio holder will be pursuing the issues raised and I hope Ministers will take note of what is happening in Rugby and the system is vastly improved."

Joint Overview and Scrutiny meeting 6 November 2017