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12 October 2018

CHC reveals Universal Credit is ploughing Welsh housing association tenants into £2m of debt

New figures have revealed that Welsh housing association tenants on Universal Credit are in £2.282m worth of debt – an increase of 150% since December 2017.

We commissioned research of nearly 7000 people, which shows the average rent arrears of a tenant claiming Universal Credit is now £434, up from £420 in December 2017.

The Universal Credit policy, which merges six benefits into one, has been rolled out to 11% of claimants in Wales. The UK Government plans to transfer an extra 350,000 Welsh households currently claiming benefits to Universal Credit between July 2019 and 2023.

The data obtained by the Opinion Research Service, shows 23% of tenants currently in arrears were not in this position before moving onto Universal Credit.

We are concerned the plans have the potential to plough significantly more tenants into debt if changes aren’t made to the policy.

We are calling for the Department for Work and Pensions to postpone and reconsider plans to ensure the policy is fit for purpose ahead of its full roll out.

Will Atkinson, Policy and Programmes Manager said:

“The impact of Universal Credit is clear despite being only 11% rolled out in Wales. Tenants are struggling to clear rent arrears caused by the initial financial shock of claiming Universal Credit, despite housing associations doing their best to support tenants with budgeting support and advice. We urge DWP to reconsider plans to extend Universal Credit to 350,000 existing benefit claimants in Wales, to ensure that no one is financially disadvantaged by this change.”