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