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Welfare Reform and Registered Social Landlords

The Welfare Reform bill which is currently progressing through parliament at Westminster has created much debate amongst Registered Social Landlords.

Much of the debate has involved the proposed introduction of universal credit, a single benefit payment for all claimants. This credit would:

  • replace all existing benefits
  • involve the eventual removal of housing benefit as an individual benefit.
  • remove the current system where housing benefit can be paid directly to a landlord on a tenant's behalf

Many landlords have rightly expressed concern that the proposed welfare reform changes would lead to substantial problems with rental payments. They believe that if direct payments are removed many tenants will fail to make rental payments, leading to increased arrears.

Recent House of Commons debate has indicated further changes could be made, including the retention of direct payment of housing benefit. This would appear to be a direct result of the excellent campaigning work being done by many individual landlords and by representative bodies.

However the comment made by the MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West in the Commons debate and quoted in the Inside Housing blog must surely create concern?

Tom Greatrex said:
"Social landlords are worried that income streams might be significantly reduced because households facing financial constraints as a result of rising food and fuel prices and other calls on their budgets which may be greater in future choose to spend the money received from universal credit on items other than rent".

  • Is the Member of Parliament really suggesting that people should pay rent rather than spend money on food?
  • Is he suggesting that tenants in receipt of universal credit cannot be trusted to budget correctly and to treat rent as a priority?
  • If he has genuine fears that the levels of the proposed credit will not be sufficient to allow tenants to deal with all the basic financial burdens upon them, would it not then be better for the Honourable Member to campaign to ensure that those who require to claim benefits are able to afford the basic necessities of life?

For more information on welfare reform get in touch with our housing team.

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Written by : Super User