Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Housing Benefit

Universal Credit: 70% Rise in Severe Rent Arrears.

Rent arrears for Tenants - How to avoid them - Slater & Brandley

Steep Rise in Arrears Amongst Universal Credit Claimants.

Rough sleeping remains a problem.

A day out with Derby’s rough sleepers and homeless people Derbyshire Live. October the 13th 2021.

Derby’s rough sleepers have complex problems

There are many initiatives to help with this ( How Ipswich is breaking the cycle of homelessness) , though doubtless not enough given the deep rooted causes of homelessness and the years of government neglect and a benefit system not fit to deal with people’s needs.

It looks as if more of those on benefits, are threatened with homelessness (which does not mean we will see all of them on the streets).

The cause is not their “complex problems”.

A few days ago Welfare Weekly carried this story,

Universal Credit: Homelessness fears as figures show a 70% surge in severe rent arrears.

New Government figures published today (Wednesday) reveal a 70% increase over six months in the number of renters on Universal Credit who are struggling with severe rent arrears.

The figures reveal that 190,000 low-income renters on Universal Credit in England are at least two or more months behind on their rent, with a leading homeless charity warning that a growing number of families teetering on the “brink of homelessness”.

This is striking,

Housing Benefit rates (and the housing costs component of Universal Credit) have been frozen since April this year. This means the rents are no longer linked to market rents, at a time when families and individuals up and down the country are struggling to cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Story got coverage:

The Stop Mass Homelessness campaign, led by Big Issue founder Lord Bird, launched in July this year in response to spiralling debts and soaring poverty which threatens to push thousands into homelessness this autumn.

“We are literally adding fuel to the fire,” he said in response to soaring energy bills and rising poverty. “We need to keep people in their homes, or face the costly reality of a mass homelessness crisis as people are forced to choose between paying the rent or the bills.”

And, in full circle, we come back to rough sleeping:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2021 at 9:28 am

Freeze on Local Housing Allowance to Hit Low-waged and Claimants.

Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance (LHA) in UK | DNS Accountants

Tories Ready to Throw Us Out of our Gaffs.

This really struck me yesterday.

Coming originally from London, and having many friends there, people talk all the time about the sky-high rents from the thieves, sorry, landlords. Someone I know spends nearly half her salary on funding the lifestyle of these idlers. Hell knows how you can get by if you’re on Universal Credit or Legacy Benefits.

When I had a gaff down Kentish Town in the 1970s we paid about a quarter of our wages in rent.

 

Benefits freeze will leave tenants across Britain facing rent arrears of £1,000

Guardian.

Low-income tenants across much of Britain will be left hundreds of pounds worse off from next month due to the government quietly imposing a real-terms cut in housing benefit, the Observer can reveal.

From April, the government is freezing the amount of local housing allowance (LHA), meaning tenants will receive the same amount of money as last financial year, even where rents have gone up. LHA is paid to tenants in privately rented homes, including those on universal credit.

In some parts of the country, tenants are set to lose more than £1,000 a year as a result of a combination of rising rents and the new benefit freeze, Observer analysis of government data shows. Those tenants affected will have to find the money from elsewhere, or else face growing rent arrears.

There is already evidence of an arrears crisis, with Citizens Advice estimating that half a million private tenants are behind on rent. The ban on most evictions, imposed at the start of the pandemic, was extended last week to the end of May.

“The freeze to LHA rates is yet another example of the government abandoning tenants – this will force many out of the private sector and on to the streets, and will force many more to choose between feeding their families and paying their rent,” said Nick Ballard, head organiser of tenants’ union Acorn.

Now this is the Tories’ responsibility, and specifically fat boy Eric Pickles who when not eating babies, introduced the ‘local’ Housing Allowance,  but I can’t help remembering this:

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 15, 2021 at 11:10 am

Universal Credit to be Cut and Local Housing Allowance Frozen?

Universal Credit: Thérèse Coffey confident in system during coronavirus  crisis | Personal Finance | Finance | Express.co.uk
Future plans for Benefit cuts?
After Wednesday’s announcements it is  unclear what the government’s plans for Universal Credit are:
https://twitter.com/imajsaclaimant/status/1332058593848385537?s=20

Universal Credit: Millions face losing £1,000 in benefits, campaigners warn

BBC

 Six million households face a £1,000 cut to their benefits if a temporary increase to Universal Credit is not kept in place, new research claims.

Claimants were given a £20-a-week boost in response to the coronavirus pandemic in April, which will end in April 2021.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak says he will make his mind up about whether to keep the higher rate going next year.

Left-leaning policy researchers the Resolution Foundation urged him to keep it, to protect vulnerable families.

Failing to extend the £20 increase would hit families just as unemployment levels were expected to peak, the foundation said, with the government predicting 2.6 million could be out of work by the middle of next year.

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The director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, Paul Johnson, said it was “disappointing” Mr Sunak did not make an announcement on whether he would keep the temporary increase or not.

“If the government is not going to maintain it at its current level it should say so explicitly and give people time to prepare – £20 a week is a lot for those dependent on benefits,” he said.

“If it does delay announcing the increase until March and is once again unable as a result to increase legacy benefits and contributory benefits at the same time, then that would be simply inexcusable.”

Mr Sunak said the measure was introduced on a “temporary” basis, during a “many months of a national lockdown [with a] very severe set of restrictions”, saying it was a “period of acute panic”.

Other sources are already predicting the worst.

Universal Credit to be cut and Local Housing Allowance to be refrozen from April

 

Inside Housing.

Universal Credit will be cut and Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates refrozen despite a predicted surge in unemployment #UKhousing
Early in the coronavirus crisis in late March, the government boosted the Universal Credit standard allowance and working tax credits by £20 a week and increased LHA rates – which determine how much welfare support for housing costs private renters can claim – to reflect the cheapest third of rents in an area.

But Spending Review documents published today indicate that neither of these measures will be kept in place.

That is despite chancellor Rishi Sunak revealing today that unemployment is expected to surge to 2.6 million by the middle of the year due to the pandemic’s impact on businesses.

Budget tables show that ministers do not anticipate the £6bn spent on boosting Universal Credit and working tax credits in 2020/21 to reoccur next financial year.

And an accompanying report by spending watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said the government has decided that LHA rates “will be frozen in cash terms from 2021/22 onwards”.

Somebody’s happy:

here

Written by Andrew Coates

November 27, 2020 at 9:41 am

Court Rules Against “No DSS” Discrimination.

Many of us know people affected by this discrimination, and others who are terrified at losing their jobs because their landlords say they will not keep on tenants who are receive Housing Benefit (It’s being replaced by Universal Credit.)

BBC.

A judge has ruled that blanket bans on renting properties to people on housing benefit are unlawful and discriminatory.

The “momentous” court ruling found a single mother-of-two had experienced indirect discrimination when a letting agent refused to rent to her.

She ended up homeless with her two children, when her case was taken on by housing charity Shelter.

The judge ruled “No DSS” rental bans are against equality laws.

Previously cases backed by Shelter – and first reported by BBC News – have established that “No DSS” landlords and agents are guilty of indirect discrimination, but the cases were settled before any court heard them in full.

In February 2018, single mother Rosie Keogh won compensation for sex discrimination from a lettings agency that refused to consider her as a tenant because she was on state benefit, but the case was settled out of court.

The ruling was welcomed by the housing charity Shelter as a “nail in the coffin” of the No DSS rule – an archaic reference to the former Department for Social Security – used by some landlords to describe the vetting of a class of tenants they regard as unsuitable.

Rose Arnall, the Shelter solicitor who fought the case, said: “It finally clarifies that discriminating against people in need of housing benefits is not just morally wrong, it is against the law.”

But….

Although the ruling, made in a virtual hearing on 1 July, does not set a legal precedent, Shelter said it sent a warning to landlords and letting agents that they should end the practice. Five similar cases brought by the charity in recent years were settled out of court in Shelter’s favour.

This is a welcome decision.  But but apart from not creating a new law, or right to housing, it will not end accommodation problems for people on Benefit, the fact that benefits do not always cover rents, or housing problems in general.

Such as this:

Foodbanks and homelessness charities fear ‘huge storm’ of demand this autumn

FOODBANKS and charities working with the homeless are fearful of a “huge storm” of demand this autumn, as the effect of redundancies are felt and hunger mounts.

Already, volunteers are looking ahead with “fear and trepidation at what is coming down the road at us”, one foodbank manager reported.

Charities fear that, as government support tails off in the autumn, the demands on charities will increase to unsustainable levels, and that a new wave of homelessness will be unleashed. Those most at risk of destitution are those already vulnerable, including migrants who are have no access to government support.

(Just as a note, I am about to reach retirement – this will mean this Blog will not continue in its present form).

Written by Andrew Coates

July 14, 2020 at 8:08 am

Government Tries to Solve Housing Benefit (Local Housing Allowance) Universal Credit Disaster.

Looks Complicated and is…

The latest in a long run of stories about Universal Credit:

Edinburgh families forced to wait five weeks to receive Universal Credit

FAMILIES face being left without cash over Christmas when Universal Credit starts being rolled out in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Claimants will be forced to wait five weeks before they receive the new benefit, meaning first payments will not be made until January.

The shake-up is expected to mean more people relying on foodbanks and also lead to a rise in rent arrears.

Green councillor Susan Rae said: “The immediate impact is debt because the gap people have to wait for payment will throw people into rent arrears.

What is the background to this problem?

The DWP says,

You could get Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent if you’re on a low income.

Use a benefits calculator to check if you can get Housing Benefit before you apply. You may need to claim Universal Credit instead.

Housing Benefit can pay for part or all of your rent. How much you get depends on your income and circumstances.

You can apply for Housing Benefit whether you’re unemployed or working.

And,

The housing element of Universal Credit

When people are moved onto Universal Credit, the single payment for their household will include a ‘housing element’. This will replace the help they currently get from Housing Benefit.

Universal Credit – including the housing element – is paid monthly in arrears.

Direct payment of rent – what is it and when is it coming in?

If you’re a registered social landlord and you receive your tenants’ rent directly from your local council, this will change under Universal Credit. Instead, tenants will receive their ’housing element’ direct and be responsible for paying it to you themselves.

Before the new system comes in, some tenants who are not yet claiming Universal Credit might be selected to start receiving their Housing Benefit payment direct.

The Department for Work and Pensions has committed to consult with social landlords before deciding whether to move their tenants onto direct payments. They will take into account any information you provide about your tenants’ ability to manage with direct payments.

If your tenant can’t manage their rent payments

A tenant can ask to have their housing payments switched to the landlord for a period of time while they get the support they need to get their money under control.

If a tenant has rent arrears, then, as their landlord, you can ask for the rent payments to be temporarily switched to you.

When Amber Rudd became the latest in a long list of DWP Ministers she said (Sky 23rd of November).

The new work and pensions secretary also said she was going to review the five-week wait time for new claimants to receive their benefits; payment systems for the housing element of Universal Credit; access to cash and the repayment of upfront loans.

She said: “We need to give [claimants] more confidence in the fact that they can access cash immediately.

“You know people are nervous about moving from legacy benefits to Universal Credit because they cannot afford quite often to be without cash for a few days, a week, two weeks, three weeks.

“I have to make sure that they can have confidence in access in earlier.”

It does not take a genius to work out that with money in your hand, when you have little, it is tempting to spend on other things than rent.

But there are other problems:

If you live in a private sector property, it may not cover your full rent as it will take account of where you live and, if you are under age 35, whether you are expected to share accommodation.

If you live in a council or housing association property you will be asked about the number of bedrooms you have to compare with how many you are thought to need, to see if you are under occupying the property.

And there is a cap on the rent anybody can get.

Which seems reasonable but with rents in some cities…

So you can be out of pocket in the first place.

So, this is the Government’s latest attempt to solve some of these multiple problems by patching up relations with the (better) landlords.

Inside Housing today reports:

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be promoting its Universal Credit landlord portal with a six-week social media campaign, starting today.

The portal allows social landlords to ‘verify’ claimants’ rent, which makes it easier for claimants to set up a claim for the housing elements of the benefit payment swiftly.

It also allows landlords to make a request for tenants to be switched back onto the direct payments arrangement, where the rental payments are paid directly to them rather than to the tenant.

This is the case for legacy housing benefit, but is a key reform introduced by the Universal Credit system.

There are currently 538 registered landlords from the social rented sector using the portal.

Justin Tomlinson, minister for family support, housing and child maintenance, said: “The landlord campaign aims to increase awareness of the ways landlords can support Universal Credit, and receive their payments in time. It’s fantastic we’ve signed up 538 registered landlords from the social rented sector already – the feedback we’ve had so far has been overwhelmingly positive.”

“The campaign is spearheaded by partners in the sector and features real life case studies from landlords who explain in their own words their experience of working with the Department of Work and Pensions to support tenants who are claiming Universal Credit.”

A spokesperson for housing association Riverside said: “The landlord portal allows us to verify tenants’ rent and offer support to them early in the Universal Credit process.”

When social landlords enrol with the landlord portal they are invited to accept ‘Trusted Partner status’, allowing them to apply for alternative payment arrangements such as managed payments.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 26, 2018 at 5:34 pm