Universal Credit flexibilities
Scottish Government introduces Universal Credit flexibilities
Responding to the announcement on Friday 13 January by Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman that tenants will have the choice of having the housing element of Universal Credit payments made directly to their housing associations and co-operatives, the Scottish Federation of Housing Association (SFHA) said that it welcomed this move which it had long campaigned for.
New applicants who live in the Universal Credit Full Service areas – local authority areas where a digital claiming system has been established by the UK Government – will be given the option of twice-monthly payments instead of the DWP’s current monthly payment system.
Mary Taylor, Chief Executive of the SFHA, said:
“Even before our involvement in the Smith Commission Stakeholder Group, we had been campaigning for the housing element of Universal Credit to be able to be paid directly to our members, as has been the case with Housing Benefit. We welcome that the Scottish Government has prioritised introducing this flexibility as well as the ability to vary the frequency of payments as these measures should help to ease the financial pressure on tenants.
“Our members house some of Scotland’s poorest and most vulnerable people – most of whom are eligible for support with their housing costs. Direct payments to landlords and more frequent payments should help to ensure that tenants who choose these options can be more financially secure and able to sustain their tenancy.
“Our members will also benefit from these flexibilities as rent makes up the majority of housing associations’ income and is therefore vital in order for them to operate. Any reduction in rental income seriously threatens their ability to provide affordable housing and services.
“Together with our members, we stand ready to work with the Scottish Government and others to shape Scotland’s new social security system and ensure that the most vulnerable people in our country are treated with dignity, fairness and respect.
“We will update members on timescales as soon as these are known. We are continuing to liaise robustly with the DWP and gathering your evidence is a vital part of this process.”