Online universal credit system will leave many social housing tenants struggling
Research has found that seven in ten people are not ready for the shift to the online system that will occur due to universal credit.
Research from the National Housing Federation has discovered fresh concerns that people on low incomes will struggle to access universal credits digital service, with 40% of people have been affected by the changes having no internet access at all.
• 30% of tenants would not be confident making a benefit application online.
• 92% would prefer benefits to be paid direct to their landlord rather than their own accounts, one of the new conditions under UC.
• 68% of those who manage money on a short term basis are not confident budgeting monthly.
• Only one in seven (16%) even know about the changes.
Universal credit will be replacing six existing welfare payments, which include housing benefits, and will be rolled out nationally by 2017.
The switch to paying housing benefit directly to tenants could end with many families falling behind on rent, warns the NHF.
NHF chief executive David Orr said: “We support the aims of UC to simplify the system and make work pay. We are concerned that the transition to the new system will put many tenants at risk. An overwhelming majority of tenants want to have the choice to have their housing costs paid to their landlord and a large proportion are faced with the additional challenge of not having access to the internet. For people living with financial stress every day, this rational choice secures your home and reduces the stress. With two thirds likely to struggle with monthly budgeting, there is a risk that without the right support, many could end up unable to pay for essentials and fall behind on their rent. If you are living on a low income, there is a huge difference between budgeting weekly and monthly. The consequences of running out of money for several days at the end of a month are much more severe than running short for a day at the end of the week.”
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