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Universal Credit change welcomed by lettings sector groups

A change to the operation of Universal Credit has been welcomed by a trade body which has described it as good news for tenants and landlords.

Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke says tenants who currently have housing benefit paid directly to their landlord will have the ability to continue that arrangement under Universal Credit.

“This is a welcome change and will mean that tenants who choose, can be secure that their rent has been paid and landlords have the confidence to rent out housing to those claiming benefits” says Chris Town, vice-chair of the Residential Landlords Association.

The RLA has also welcomed the Budget announcement scrapping the seven day wait for claimants to apply for Universal Credit which will help avoid some tenants getting into arrears. 

Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, also welcomes the change but says he still has concerns. 

“The reduction in the waiting period by seven days doesn’t apply to the vast majority of claimants anyway, so this will only help the minority. Of greater issue is the increasing complexity of the scheme; staff assessing Universal Credit claims have not been properly trained, meaning mistakes are being made on an all too regular basis; and as the Full Service rollout expands, more complicated cases will arise, causing even more challenges for DWP staff. 

“Some experienced commentators have suggested the changes, whilst welcomed, represent “sticking a plaster” to a fatally flawed system which requires re-engineering, rather than tinkering and have grave doubts concerning DWP’s ability and willingness to alter the direction of travel. Until the system has proved itself fit-for-purpose, landlords will remain cautious about renting to those in receipt of Universal Credit for fear of unsustainable levels of rent arrears.”

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