Local food banks are currently seeking to increase their supplies (some up to an extra 15 tonnes) in order to prepare for more demand following the hardship being caused by new Universal Credit applications.
Ministers have already called on the Government to pause the gradual national extension of the system due to the backlog in applications leaving some families with no income for a period longer than the mandatory six weeks. A motion was passed, at 299 votes to 0 to pause further rollouts of Universal Credit meaning a new debate has now been granted by the speaker of the House. Approximately eight per cent of current benefits claimants are on Universal Credit, which will increase to ten per cent by the end of January. The rollout is due to be completed by 2022.
The Government insist that the six week wait is an attempt to mirror the world of work and waiting for a pay cheque. Though it is rightly pointed out that no one is likely to be made to wait six weeks before they are paid.
This is having a huge knock on effect to tenants and landlords. A recent report has shockingly indicated that out of 775 rent accounts considered the average claimant had £156 worth of arrears only five months after applying for Universal Credit. Families are spiralling into debt at an uncontrollable rate and many are facing eviction.
Rent arrears are significantly worse under the new system and the six week wait is the root of the problem. The Prime Minister has said that no one will be evicted due to rent arrears being caused by Universal Credit, yet this is not stopping landlords issuing notices and commencing proceedings. Social landlords appear to be slightly more understanding, however, private landlords (who are often reliant on the rent themselves) are able to apply for possession under mandatory grounds leaving tenants facing homelessness.
If you are worried about losing your home due to rent or mortgage arrears Stephensons have a specialist housing team who can provide advice and assistance in relation to possession proceedings, homelessness and other housing related legal issues
If you require legal advice please contact our housing law team on 01616 966 229.