The last 5 offices in Scotland have switched over to offering the new UC service as the roll-out of UC continues across the UK.
Last week Arbroath, Blairgowrie, Forfar, Montrose and Perth joined the rest of Scotland’s jobcentres in offering Universal Credit to single jobseekers. According to a Government press release nearly 25,000 Scots are claiming Universal Credit and over 9,000 of those are in work.
Universal Credit is designed to ensure people will be better off in work than on benefits, claims the Government and the latest statistics show that people claiming it are finding work faster and earning more they say.
The Government claim that those on Universal Credit are significantly more likely to find employment than those on Jobseeker’s Allowance and that support is being offered to claimants to progress in their careers and increase their earnings.
Universal Credit is designed to eventually replace 6 existing benefits:
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credits
- Housing Benefit
See the list of jobcentre areas where claimants can get Universal Credit.
Research carried out by the Residential Landlords Association paints a rather bleaker picture of UC from the landlords’ experience as it showed that landlords are frustrated with the new system.
Their main gripe is with a system which sees benefits paid directly to claimants, who are then responsible for paying their own bills, including rent.
Landlords have heavily criticised the way the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has handled their enquiries and say that the process for requesting direct payments from the Government is too long.
The RLA said that one landlord who had responded to their survey said:
“The Universal Credit system is mysterious, unresponsive and devoid of communication. I have made three applications. I received one payment, but no statement and I have no idea what the payment was for. I have not received any communication in response to the other applications.
“There are very long delays which are unacceptable as arrears mount and I still have to pay the mortgage with no rent income. This is a disaster and will result in increased homelessness.”
The transfer from Local Housing Allowance to Universal Credit has also been slammed, with complaints about missing and delayed payments leaving tenants in arrears. In fact, say the RLA, the problems are so extreme many landlords say they will no longer rent to any benefit claimants.
Another landlord who responded to the RLA’s consultation said:
“I will stop renting to people on Universal Credit as I won’t get rent to cover mortgage payments. The system whereby tenants get payment rather than the landlord is shambolic, universally disliked, makes tenants vulnerable to addictions and homelessness and prevents landlords from renting to people in receipt.”
Richard Jones, RLA policy adviser and company secretary said:
“Universal Credit and associated reforms make it harder to rent to people on low incomes or housing benefit and we have a building body of evidence that the changes are making it harder for people in difficult situations to get their lives back on track.
“We acknowledge that the Department for Work and Pensions has taken some action to correct things, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
“The issue is whether the DWP can deal with the scale of these issues, given that they have only been dealing with the simple cases do far.”
The RLA is currently organising meetings with Government officials to discuss Universal Credit.
Advice for Landlords on Universal Credit: Universal Credit and rented housing – frequently asked questions
All jobcentres in Scotland now offering Universal Credit https://t.co/9gTyJKqurH
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) May 5, 2016