8:19 AM, 24th November 2017, About 6 years ago 4
In a letter to its members the RLA said:
“The RLA Campaigns Team is pleased to report that the Government has listened to us on Universal Credit – with Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke today confirming tenants who currently have housing benefit paid directly to their landlord, can continue this arrangement under Universal Credit.
The government has also scrapped the seven-day wait for claimants to apply for Universal Credit – a move which will help some tenants avoid getting into arrears and an issue the RLA had raised specifically with Mr Gauke.
This is a significant victory for us following long term campaigning, fighting for reforms to make the system fairer for both landlords and tenants and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you, and all our members, for your ongoing support for our campaigns work.
We have been battling for change on Universal Credit for years now – at times it has felt like banging our heads against a brick wall – so the significance of the Government’s decision to take some of our suggestions on board should not be underestimated.
The changes announced today may go some way to restoring the confidence of landlords in renting homes to those claiming benefits – and the comfort of knowing that those who have housing benefit direct payments in place will be allowed to continue with the arrangement under Universal Credit.
As part of our campaigns work we 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, to discuss rent arrears and direct payments. We also presented key research findings from our welfare survey showing landlords turning away from the benefits market.
We went on to present evidence to a Work and Pensions select committee on the flaws in the current rollout earlier this autumn.
The changes to the Universal Credit system are among a raft of welfare reforms backed by the association announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Budget yesterday.
Our campaign to have rent payments taken into account when calculating credit scores struck a chord with the Government – with the announcement it will invest £2million in developing technology that will allow this to happen.
As well as helping tenants who want to buy their own home, this will help landlords when it comes to referencing potential tenants – enabling them to rent with greater confidence knowing their tenants have a history of paying rent in full and on time.
We have also been thanked by homelessness charities Shelter and Crisis for supporting their campaigns to secure funding to help people access private rented housing, and increased local housing allowance support for tenants in the areas where market rents are least affordable.
The RLA will continue to campaign on Universal Credit. After years of our diligent lobbying the Government is now listening. We will not rest on our laurels. This is a success – but there is still more to do to make renting better for all.