Research shows 16% of universal credit renters are in arrears after three months

  • Research has revealed that sixteen percent of universal credit claimants who rent a property found themselves in arrears after only three months of claiming the new benefit. /images/rent_due.jpg

    The figure has been revealed by the Department for Work and Pensions in its universal credit ‘Pathfinder Evaluation' report, reports 24dash.

    The reports investigates universal credit claimant experiences in the pathfinder areas where initial eligibility criteria has been focused on singled, unemployed, non-home owning claimants who do not have any children.

    Most of the research was carried out through a telephone survey of 900 claimants carried out in three stages, looking at their first impressions and experience at three and then six months. At the three month stage the report finds that 16% of universal credit renters were in arrears, however that reduced to 12% at six months.

    The report states: "Claimants who were paying rent were asked whether or not they were up to date with their rent payments. The vast majority of UC renters reported no arrears. For those who did report arrears [16% at wave 2, 12% at wave 3] the level reduced over time so that by wave 3 of the survey the proportion reporting rent arrears for UC was at 12% compared to 7% for similar JSA claimants. This suggests that the differences between UC and JSA renters level off over time. This finding is very similar to the findings from the introduction of direct payment of housing benefit to tenants in social housing in the Direct Payment Demonstration Project (DPDP). This found that rent arrears increased initially but payment patterns improved considerably by the end of the first 12 months. Following the evidence from DPDP and UC Live Service, DWP has put in place arrangements to deliver money management advice to claimants and alternative payment arrangements should claimants begin to accrue rent arrears. Work is also underway, as part of a landlord preparation strategy, to help further smooth the transition to UC."

    The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith announced in September that he would accelerate roll out nationwide to Jobcentres from February 2015.

    He said: "More than 30,000 people have made a universal credit claim and it is available in over 60 Jobcentres. By Christmas, universal credit will be available in almost 100 Jobcentres. This plan will ensure universal credit is established across Great Britain with new claims to legacy benefits closed from 2016. We will extend universal credit to families in the autumn and will shortly test the enhanced digital service."

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