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Landlords refuse to take on new Universal Credit claimants in Great Yarmouth

PUBLISHED: 09:21 15 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:40 16 February 2017

PA Archive/Press Association Images

PA Archive/Press Association Images

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Landlords are refusing to take on tenants who are in the process of claiming for benefits.

At a meeting of the Great Yarmouth branch of the Eastern Landlords Association last month, members said they would not take on new tenants in the process of making a claim for Universal Credit.

Chairman of the association, Paul Cunningham, said some claimants were waiting ten to 12 weeks for their first payment, forcing them to go into arrears. He also said there have been a number of evictions solely down to Universal Credit issues.

He added: “The introduction of Universal Credit in Great Yarmouth last April has proved to be disastrous with landlords now refusing to take any such claimants and evictions rising due to arrears caused by the system.”

Housing benefit used to be paid directly to landlords by the local authority.

However under the changes it is now up to claimants to pay their rent to their landlords.

During the roll out of Universal Credit there have been issues that the claims process has caused long delays for some people.

Mr Cunningham added: “Only if the claim process is radically altered will this situation change. Housing benefit tenants were always accepted because the council managed the claim and would liaise with landlords, now that the process is managed by Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), they refuse to communicate with the landlords even after being told the tenant is in danger of eviction.”

Some landlords have been forced to evict tenants and in the most extreme cases meaning some people have been made homeless.

Universal Credit combines several other working-age benefits, including housing benefit and Job Seeker’s Allowance, with a monthly instead of fortnightly payment.

Great Yarmouth was chosen as a pilot area for the government’s new Universal Credit last spring and then later in Lowestoft.

A DWP spokesman said: “The best way to help people pay their rent is to help them into work, and under Universal Credit, people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system.

“Universal Credit is designed to mirror the world of work, where most people are paid monthly, and paying rent directly to claimants is an important part of this process. The majority of UC claimants are confident in managing their money and we provide budgeting support as well as benefit advances. Claimants can immediately apply for advance payment where needed, including for rent.”

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