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Help SFHA reduce the impact of Universal Credit

Your data is vital in order to influence policy change. 

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The SFHA issues a monthly survey that aims to measure the impact of the roll-out of Universal Credit on housing associations – and for very good reasons.

The roll-out of Universal Credit has been fraught with payment delays, communication difficulties, cost overruns and a reset. It has also been accompanied by the introduction of other UK Government welfare policies, sometimes leading to a conflation of its perceived policy short comings with its practical implementation.

The UK Government and the DWP report that they have increased the performance of Universal Credit, which is the main reason that the SFHA has been carrying out the surveys – to see if the claims actually stand up.

The evidence gained from survey returns enables the SFHA to highlight to the DWP where there have been shortcomings and – most importantly – can help to bring about change.

To give a recent example of SFHA success – the DWP in Live service had separate forms for landlords to verify rent details and to ask for an Alternative Payment Arrangement Managed Payment to Landlords (APA – MPTLs). The two forms have now been merged in the expectation that this will streamline the setting up of MPTLs not only for tenants in arrears but those tenants who have vulnerabilities such as addiction issues that justify direct payments to landlords to protect the tenant (and their family), even if not (yet) in arrears.

It remains to be seen whether this and other procedural changes perform as they are meant to, which is why your survey returns are vital so that the SFHA can feedback to the DWP and make the case, if necessary, for further changes. With the advent of Universal Credit Full Service, currently available in seven local authorities in Scotland, and with it the removal of the gateway criteria that was in place in Live Service areas, there will be an upsurge in the number and complexity of cases. This needs to be monitored, as does the transition to the Scottish Government’s Universal credit flexibilities when they come into operation.

Your survey returns demonstrate what processes are working, what processes that are in need of refinement, and what processes are absent that are required. Should Universal Credit get to a steady state, it will be clear to see what policy shortcomings there are, and they can no longer be classified as 'teething problems'.

All members have been sent a link to our survey. If you wish to be added onto our mailing list to receive this, please email Janine Mckenna on jmckenna@sfha.co.uk

The link to the latest survey (collecting information for the month of June) can be foundby following this link:

 http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3748931/Universal-Credit-Data-Collection-as-at-June-30th

The closing date for June’s survey is this Friday – 25 August.

Thank you for returning your surveys and please, keep them coming. Your data is vital in order to change policy.