This report presents the results of a survey to understand any impact of Universal Credit (UC) on housing associations. It was run by the National Housing Federation in April/May 2018 with figures provided for 31 March 2018. It had responses from 62 organisations (including SHAL) covering over 1 million tenancies. Of those tenancies, 4.8% are claiming UC.
The key findings were:
- Over half were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, with the journal service and receipt of new claim notification letters also being cause for dissatisfaction
- Demand for assistance from foodbanks has been increasing for some time
- Increased financial hardship due to delays in receiving UC payments
- Some tenants still struggle with checking their journal and understanding what housing costs they are being paid whether direct to them or direct to landlord
- Tenants being deducted housing costs monthly and landlords being paid 4 weekly also resulting in a missed month also causes great confusion to both tenant and landlord resulting in increased customer contact and demands on time
The number of tenants on UC remains low, but it is clear the introduction of the new welfare systems is causing changes in average levels of arrears. Landlords who responded continue to report issues with the administration and design of UC, particularly the four-weekly payment cycle for APAs and need for tenant consent when talking to DWP.
These, and a perceived lack of information about UC, leads to additional confusion for customers as they move to a new welfare system.
If you’d like to know more you can read the findings online.