More than seven in ten council tenants in London on Universal Credit have fallen behind with their rent, a new investigation has found. The BBC sent Freedom of Information requests to the first six boroughs in London to get a full Universal Credit service – Croydon, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Southwark, Sutton and Tower Hamlets. Figures showed that 13,650 council tenants in the capital are claiming Universal Credit. However, nearly 10,000 of these were found to be in rent arrears.
John Biggs, mayor of Tower Hamlets, responded by warning that the introduction of Universal Credits is pushing families in the area into poverty.
He said this government policy means “people are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table, which is simply not acceptable””
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions defended the measure, stating that the majority of claimants are “comfortable managing their money”.
The official said the best way to help people pay their rent and to improve their lives is to support them into work.
He added that under Universal Credit, people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system.
Universal Credit is being introduced incrementally across the UK.
Claimants will have to wait at least six weeks to receive their first payment after submitting an application, although the BBC investigation pointed out that some have had to wait up to 12 weeks before starting to receive regular payments.
For further information on any of the points raised in this article please contact Andrew Murray in our Social Housing Team.