Increasing numbers of tenants on Universal Credit are falling behind with rent payments, landlords have said, just weeks before the benefit is rolled out to thousands more.
Over a third of private landlords with tenants on the new unified system have said that they are now in rent arrears - suggesting residents aren’t budgeting sufficiently.
Universal Credit brings together all different kinds of benefits into one payment and puts those receiving benefits in full control of their finances. Previously, Housing Benefit was paid straight to landlords.
According to a recent survey by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) of almost 3,000 landlords, of those with Universal Credit claimants as tenants, 38 per cent reported experiencing tenants going into rent arrears.
In February 2016 that figure was 27 per cent, meaning the latest figures are a rise of 10 percent.
Universal Credit will be rolled out into new local authorities later this year. The benefit has been trialled by certain authorities for the past two years.
RLA Vice Chairman, Chris Town, said: “Whilst we continue to welcome the principle of simplifying the benefit system, it cannot be right that as it is currently designed, Universal Credit is leading many more tenants into rent arrears.
“This is not financially responsible and does nothing to encourage landlords to house people needing to claim benefit.
“We have already met with the Minister and are heartened that the Department understands the need to address the problem of rent arrears.
“With just weeks to go before the roll out of Universal Credit gathers pace we need action sooner rather than later.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “The best way to help people pay their rent is to help them into work and under Universal Credit people are moving into employment faster and staying in it longer than under the old system.
“Universal Credit gives people control over their finances, and is paid the same way that many people in work are paid. The majority are comfortable managing their money but advances are available for anyone who needs extra help, and arrangements can be made to pay rent direct to landlords if needed.”