Rents at risk without DWP data share

Welsh providers fear tenants falling behind on payments without advance notice of Universal Credit transfers.

 

'Far-reaching reforms' required to address universal credit flaws

Providers across Wales fear tenants are in danger of failing to claim eligible benefits under Universal Credit due to a lack of information-sharing by the DWP.

Community Housing Cymru (CHC) is urging the DWP to share information on when tenants will be transferring from the old benefits system to Universal Credit, so they are able to offer the correct support.

Will Atkinson, CHC Policy and Programmes Manager at Community Housing Cymru, said: “While we were pleased with the outcome of the UK Government Budget in November, which saw a number of changes made to Universal Credit following recommendations from Community Housing Cymru and partner housing federations.

“But there’s still a lot that needs to be done.

“We have proposed six changes that need to be made in order to make the system fit for purpose, and to give Housing Associations the tools in order to support tenants.

“Those changes include more data sharing between Department for Work and Pensions and social landlords, and increased funding for support and advice services.”

There are currently around 76,000 Universal Credit claimants across Wales, with up to 400,000 more expected to be transferred from the existing benefits system between 2020 and 2023.

Under the current system, associations won’t be given advance notice of tenants who are transferring onto Universal Credit, which could mean those who rely on additional support such as guidance on how Universal Credit works could lose out on payments.

If data sharing is improved, CHC says it well help reduce rent arrears and household debt by ensuring tenants claim Universal Credit on time.

CHC, together with partner federations National Housing Federation, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations are lobbying government for improvements to Universal Credit and the wider welfare system, before transferal of housing benefit claimants to Universal Credit begins in earnest in 2020.

A set of six key asks of UK Government on welfare have been developed, with proposed changes needed to make sure Universal Credit works for the people it’s meant to support.

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