Universal Credit trial increases arrears by a factor of seven!

Universal Credit trial increases arrears by a factor of seven!

10:19 AM, 12th March 2013, About 11 years ago 49

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Universal-CreditA Universal Credit trial of a first group of tenants in Torfaen South Wales has resulted in an increase in arrears from £20,000 to £140,000 in just seven months from July to January.

Chief executive Duncan Forbes of Bron Afon Community Housing  who have 950 tenants receiving direct payment of their housing benefit said the rise in arrears was ” significant”.

“That was a group of people who had a good track record of payment and pretty low level of arrears, thrust into a position where they are now in significant arrears.”

“At the same time we’ve increased our staff levels by about double what we would normally put into income recovery. We’ve been very successful up to now in getting the number of evictions right down, but we can see that inevitably steadily rising. The difficulty for us is that if there’s no long-term solution to paying that rent we can’t sustain business as a landlord.”

However contrary to the evidence and all popular opinion in the PRS  the Welfare reform minister Lord Freud is still supporting Universal Credit and said: “We’ve always been clear that Universal Credit will be simple and easy for claimants to access and we will ensure that vulnerable people get the support they need to make a claim and budget their finances. Millions of people will be better off on the new benefit.”

Torfaen is one of six areas The Department of Work and Pensions is running demonstration projects and it will be interesting to see if the results give any cause for the government to U-turn or delay the introduction of Universal Credit in the autumn.

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Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

12:17 PM, 12th March 2013, About 11 years ago

It's about time the RSL's see what PRS landlords have to deal with. Universal credit was described here over a year ago as a "train crash in slow motion". The Government have obviously not realised the impact on Registered Social landlords "RSL's" sich as Housing Associations, Councils and Charities which are clearly not geared up to collect payments of benefits which will be paid directly to many of societies most vulnerable people. The report from Crisis on Xmas Eve was that only 1.5% of provate landlords now advertise that they will accept tenants on benefits. Will the RSL's be forced to go down the same route? Might RSL buckle under the pressure of the cashflow problems due to rent arrears and the massive increased costs of collection?

It is absolutely right that RSL's should be forced to work under the same rules as PRS landlords, however, Lord Freud seems to have been looking down the wrong end of the microscope when he examined the problems and came up with his solutions.

PRS landlords operating in the market of providing housing to tenants on benefits have often been accussed of ripping off the state for the rent levels they charge in comparison to RSL's. Will the RSL's now be forced to charge the same as private sector landlords to underwrite their losses too?

Steve Hards

19:35 PM, 12th March 2013, About 11 years ago

Of course Lord Freud is right that "Millions of people will be better off on the new benefit" - they will make themselves 'better off' by not paying their rent.

19:44 PM, 12th March 2013, About 11 years ago

Lord Freud is looking into a very different microscope to the one we all use. And not the wrong end.
the system of benefits we have currently is fragmented.
a claimant gets one payment for council tax, another for child maintenance, another for job seekers, another for...it just goes on and on in dribs and drabs

1; all these little payment transactions cost. by making just one enormous payment, several millions of ££££ can be saved.

2; when people work they don't get paid bit by bit, little by little.... they get paid in one lump.
This is the " training " to get people to work. so they get use to the idea of handling money month by month and not hand to mouth.
( a system designed by Labour called " one fish at a time " . This keeps people dependent on the State thus they will only vote for the hand that feeds )

3; this government will not back down. so forget any idea you may have of marching all the way to Westminster. you'll just look silly.

this plan, and I really hate to admit it, is a bloody good plan.
it will hurt....for a while....but long term the " teach a man to fish " idea will reduce the number of dependence the State has. And that's you and me. Mr and Mrs Taxpayer.

and yes some people will fail. such people will always fail. it's their destiny to fail just as it is the destiny of others to accomplish great things.

we have to embrace this change, work with it, and in the long term it will work for us

John Curtis

22:26 PM, 12th March 2013, About 11 years ago

What an idiot "letrent" appears to be. If the landlords fail because of Gov't policy will we have the same gov't saving our businesses the way they saved the Banks. He must remember we pay the taxes not the benefit claimants.
If all of the PRS landlords gave the benefit claimants Notice the day the new scheme comes into force I wonder who will be having a snap election or riots on the streets.
These people should get out more and met the people living in the world they create but protect themselves from.

0:23 AM, 13th March 2013, About 11 years ago

Not landlords failing, but tenants failing to pay their rent.

as I said it will hurt us all but its the tenants which will end up homeless and by that they will either learn or stay homeless.

remember, as homeless a person cannot claim benefits. so they have little choice but to learn how to cope with a monthly payment system.

it sadly becomes our job to help this process of teaching our tenants how to cope with this new system.

like any landlord, when I heard about Universal Credit I thought " Looks like we have the wrong chappies at the helm ....yet again "

but if you then look at what they are trying to do over a longer term then it works.
it makes sense. but short term, I agree with you all, it's rubbish, it's madness, bloody costly for us all...BUT

this is a long term project and we are all involved. landlords, private and social, and tenants.
in fact we are all being dropped, unceremoniously, into the deep end. therefore we all have to learn how to swim and help others how to swim.

we could use this a bargaining tool to get a few concessions out of councils and/or government. but instead landlords en-mass end up jumping up and down making loud noises.

think- making non payment of rent a criminal offence.


Mick Roberts

7:53 AM, 13th March 2013, About 11 years ago

Yeh, I have to say, Some people are in cuckoo land.

Does Letrent not know about when HB tenants received all their money in one ‘Giro’ payment in the late 1980’s. When then they spent their HB money on theirselves & thousands ended up in Bed & breakfast hotels costing the Govt even more money, because Landlords wouldn’t take them any more.

Please research savings facts. If you saved when you was 7, you save when you’re 37. If you’re taught younger, it stays with you. I’m not saying you can’t change, but for the majority, if they were never taught to save & budget, these bad habits do stay with some people when they’re older.
And now we’re expected to change the habits of a lifetime?

In life, we will always have so many that are on Housing Benefit. It’s how it is & always will be. To think paying them one BIG lump sum is suddenly going to make them finance wizards is cloud cuckoo land. They’re gonna’ be spending more than they should with all this cash in one go, & then when food, gas & electric is needed towards the end of the month, they aren’t going to have it, prompting more doorstep loans.
As it is now, if they run out money, which my tenants do all the time, at least next week, a payment should be coming, not a whole month later.
We all know working people who are good with money, but because they get paid monthly, they sometimes run out of money before next payday. Never mind HB tenants who don’t have any money spare to play around with.

Why does the water companies have deals with the DWP to take water bills direct from people’s benefit?
Why does the Gas/Electric companies have pay as u go meters-Because people can’t afford the lump sum at the end of the month-Even though we know these meters are more expensive overall-But people can sometimes get this £15pw, but not the £60pm. These companies because they are in the real world, learned the hard way, SOME people can’t afford that £60pm, but they can manage to get the £15pw, so the gas company brought in a provision for that-At least then, the tenant got their gas to cook/heat etc. & the gas company got their money, so it didn’t go out of business. What if Lord Freud was in charge of these companies-Would he want only once a month payments on them too?
Food is going to be the real crucial thing here. People will genuinely run out of food before next pay day. And no money to buy it.

Getting paid monthly has nothing to do whatsoever with getting people back into work-That’s just about planning ahead with money.

In theory yes, if these tenants would get good with money & learn to budget, we’d all be better off & I’d be lying on a beach in Spain every month. Or skiing in Italy.

But what Lord Freud & the Govt & this guy has to realise is That we are all differentWE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! Some people will always be better at budgeting than others, that’s how it is. There will always be better off people & not so well off people. Been happening thousands of years.
I used to advise the Govt committees on Housing Benefit issues-They’d never listen. They wanted to ask, but never listen. The top top HB managers would listen eventually & send idea’s upwards, but the top people very rarely took them on board. And that’s what’s happening now. You would think Lord Freud would wake up, & listen to his own Councils & Housing Associations who are piloting this for him.

And as you all know, there ain’t enough jobs for the skilled, highly skilled, graduates etc., So how’s this gonna’ help the low skilled unemployed that don’t want a job get back into work? It’s gonna’ give them arrears & homelessness, but work????
Get a reality check, as much as we don’t like it, there will always be so many that don’t want to work, no matter how much it puts them on the breadline. And there will be those that want to go for it & put loads of hours & save money because they want more out life. Lord Freud ain’t changing this. All he’s doing is causing pain & misery for hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
My waiting lists for my houses has gone up massively ‘cause of all these benefit cuts & changes. The Council ain’t got anywhere for ‘em & more & more Landlords are refusing LHA.

paul johnson

8:14 AM, 13th March 2013, About 11 years ago

I'm a private Landlord who rents to people in reciept of HB. 20% are paid directly to me for a variety of reasons.ie : Abusive partners taking rent money from spouse, low iq , unable to manage money, drug addicts,Alcoholics or a combination of all or some of these problems, etc etc.If we believe that families should not be living on the streets then local councils should be prepared for a huge problem.It will cost more in the long run.I will be issuing notice to at least 8 families in preparation for them defaulting on rent.They will be evicted and they will just become used to the next rung down the ladder.Unfortunately there is and always has been people unable to function in society.

Unfortunately i think Cosmo has been listening a little bit too much to Rightwing Tea/Party nutjobs across the pond.Small groups of them are in the Tory party and their simplistic drivel is shaping his opinions.

paul johnson

8:45 AM, 13th March 2013, About 11 years ago

I agree with you Mick, you make new points that i haven't thought about. 80% of my benefit tenants control their own money...Nearly all of the remainder that gets paid to me,asked me to have it diverted to me.I have never had a challenge to my request to the council that the money be diverted to me. I have had tenants ask the council to have their money be paid directly to me on medical and mental heath grounds.They are responsible enough to know that they cant cope with their addiction/s and their roof over their head can be the one certainty in a very chaotic lifestyles for them and their kids.Having the possibility of being in the same location allows schools to help their kids Social services to identify and help troubled families, transient families are very difficult to assist.

If our country does not allow families to live on the street then the new system is deeply flawed....One comment to Cosmo, please dont talk about sharing pain, You dont know the families i know.

8:48 AM, 13th March 2013, About 11 years ago

I agree with all of your comments. BUT what are we doing about in ?
complaining !! trying to get government to go into reverse. not to rock the apple cart because it works........ at the moment.

they want something. we should want something in exchange.


if councils want us to take HB claimants then we need protection from those that are most likely not to pay their rent.


it may not be the answer but it is as sure as hell a bloody good starting point.


paul johnson

9:02 AM, 13th March 2013, About 11 years ago

I'm sorry Cosmos if you think making non payment of rent a criminal offence would make a jot of difference to the people that this Universal Credit is trying to "make responsible" then you need to join Freuds team. Many of the peole who are likely to not pay their rent have no fear of a criminal offence.It may work with other demographics but not this one. Its simple what i want,
The ability to have funds paid directly to me when a tenant goes into arrears for a specified time.That gives me confidence to invest in that sector that many LL[and government] wont go near, if these changes go through the investment will dry up in our worse affected areas.
Im for private enterprise and i believe private business can go a long way to helping sort our Housing shortage.This new legislation will set it back years in the areas where its needed the most.

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