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SFHA expresses disappointment over Secretary of State's Conference Speech

UK Government will press ahead will Universal Credit roll-out.

The SFHA has expressed its disappointment over the decision to press ahead with the accelerated roll-out of Universal Credit, which was announced by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions David Gauke at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Monday 2 October.

SFHA Head of Public Affairs Sarah Boyack said:

“There has been ample evidence, not just from our members, but from all across the UK, that the current delivery of Universal Credit, in particular the Full Service, is not sufficiently resilient to cope with the surge in numbers an accelerated rollout will generate.

“Too many individuals are being left with no money for a considerable period of time, leaving them without heat, light and food, apart from what they can get from food banks. Rent arrears build up which will be difficult to clear, even when Universal Credit entitlement has been sorted out.

“Full service catches all who would have needed to claim benefits, including families with young children, with the worry that this will only increase child poverty.

“Our monthly Universal Credit survey has given us the evidence to make the case for delaying the roll-out and we have suggested changes that need to be made to the system in the light of members’ experience. The SFHA will continue to work with the DWP to help improve the processes underpinning Universal Credit and innovations such as the Landlord Portal have potential but are far from ready. Without the sharing of the necessary data that would enable housing associations to engage with and support individuals, they face an uphill struggle to secure the rental income stream needed to provide services and develop new homes.

“The SFHA would urge the Scottish Government to use its powers to provide a top-up benefit that could help individuals cope with the wait for their Universal Credit payment.”

A Scottish Government debate on the roll out of Universal Credit will be held today (Tuesday 3 October) in the Scottish Parliament. You can read the SFHA’s stamen on the debate on the media section of the SFHA website.