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12 February 2019

CHC and partner federations urge six changes to be made to Universal Credit policy

There are currently 76,000 Universal Credit claimants across Wales and the benefit is now the default for most working age people needing financial support.

The intention by UK Government is that all eligible claimants will be transferred to the new system by the end of 2023. At the end of this process, it is thought that up to 500,000 people will be claiming Universal Credit in Wales.

We have been working closely with the National Housing Federation, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (the Four Feds) to lobby government for improvements to Universal Credit and the wider welfare system, before transferal of legacy benefit claimants to Universal Credit begins in earnest in 2020.

Following discussions with our members, we have agreed a set of six key asks of UK Government on Welfare. These are:

  • End to the 5 week wait for money. Claimants should be able to get a payment in the middle of this period and there should be greater flexibility on payment frequency for all.
  • More data sharing between Department for Work and Pensions and social landlords, and the restoration of implicit consent which will mean landlords can better support tenants and prevent problems. This is key to the success of managed migration.
  • Where benefit is paid direct to the landlord we need a system that is fit for purpose, with the landlord receiving the payment on the same cycle as the tenant.
  • Increased funding for support and advice to make sure people do not miss out on entitlement including allowing backdating for more claims.
  • Making sure that work pays for everyone by matching monthly assessments to earnings within that period, improving work allowances and reducing the taper.
  • Restore inflation linked uprating to working age benefits from April 2020.

Will Atkinson, Policy and Programmes Manager at Community Housing Cymru said:

“Over the last year, since we released our previous asks alongside partner housing federations, a number of welcome changes have been announced to Universal Credit by the UK Government. Despite these changes though, there is still work to be done, to make sure the system is fit for purpose.

“Housing Associations in Wales are concerned that supporting tenants transferring onto Universal Credit will prove difficult, due to a lack of information from the Department for Work and Pensions. As Universal Credit moves towards the next phase with Managed Migration, we urge Government to consider our asks as a means to supporting tenants and housing associations with the transition, and reduce the burden on both.”