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SFHA once again warns of the catastrophic consequences of Universal Credit

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For immediate release: Tuesday 3 October

Ahead of the Scottish Government Debate on Tuesday 3 October on ‘The Roll-out of Universal Credit’, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has once again warned that the continued roll-out of the benefit will have catastrophic consequences for some of the most vulnerable in society as well as undermine the sustainability of housing associations.

Sarah Boyack, SFHA Head of Public Affairs, said:

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s debate on Universal Credit and the political support for the roll-out to be halted.

“While we are not against Universal Credit, we want to see the roll-out of the policy postponed until it is proven to work. There is a growing body of evidence that Universal Credit is not performing as it should, and we are hearing this first-hand from our members.   

“It is no exaggeration to say that the DWP’s failure to process claims promptly, combined with the huge rise in volume and complexity, will have catastrophic consequences for some of the most vulnerable in our society, with some people waiting up to six weeks before they receive a penny. Many cases are causing people to fall into arrears, which could ultimately lead to homelessness.

“Universal Credit Full Service catches all types of claimant, not just the straightforward single jobseekers the Live Service dealt with, and this includes families with children – with more than one in four children in Scotland already living in poverty, this is incredibly concerning.” (1)

Ms Boyack continued:

“SFHA members are working hard to contribute to the Scottish Government’s 50,000 affordable homes target, but the roll-out of Universal Credit is undermining the sustainability of the social housing model. 

“The DWP is intent on rolling out Universal Credit regardless – despite repeated calls from organisations with direct experience of the problems caused by the system, asking for the roll-out to be paused whilst solutions are put in place.

“It is crucial that political parties keep highlighting the effects of Universal Credit. While there have been minor changes made by the DWP, the system is simply not ready to deal with the full roll-out proposed. Housing associations are working hard to try and protect their tenants, but without feedback from the DWP about the status of individual cases, this is impossible.”

“If Universal Credit it is not paused, there will be an urgent need for the Scottish Government to mitigate the policy’s more harmful consequences with top-up payments.”

SFHA members’ experience

“We were not informed by DWP [regarding the tenants who were receiving Universal Credit], each claimant advised the association [that they were receiving Universal Credit] following arrears enquiries from staff.”

“We waited two months to see if Alternative Payment Arrangement arrears will be paid – all new Universal Credit claims end up with at least two months arrears for the tenant.”

“We also have a case of a tenant with three children whose records all stated she should receive just over £800 per month. This was received on month one, but the second payment was £500 short, with no change of circumstance and no explanation or warning from the DWP. The woman was distraught at now having to choose between not paying her rent, as her arrears are now at the point of court action, or feeding her children.”

Ends

For further information, please contact SFHA Media Adviser Kirsten Walker on t: 0141 567 6221 m: 0788 788 8348 email: kwalker@sfha.co.uk

Visit our website at www.sfha.co.uk

Follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/SFHA.HousingScotland

Twitter www.twitter.com/sfha_hq

NOTES:

  1. http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0051/00515392.pdf
  2. The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) was established in 1975 and has around 116 members providing affordable housing and wider community services across Scotland, as well as a further 200 commercial associates. The SFHA is owned and governed by its members and exists to lead, represent and support the work of housing associations and co-operatives throughout Scotland
  3. The SFHA is the voice of housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland. SFHA members own and manage 80% of the 280,000+ housing association stock across Scotland. Together, housing associations and co-operatives provide housing for almost 500,000 people, which is one in every 11 households.
  4. Over 11,000 staff are employed by SFHA members across Scotland.
  5. Housing associations and co-operatives are not-for-profit bodies regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator.

 

 

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