MPs sound warning over delays in Universal Credit payments

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MPs have written to the Government expressing serious concerns about the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC).

The Commons Work and Pensions Committee has put a number to questions to ministers at the department handling the change-over, as MPs warn delays in payments are causing major problems.

The letter to work and pensions minister Damian Hinds cites concerns raised by local authorities, such as Croydon, regarding "serious problems" they are experiencing with housing and emergency accommodation owing to widespread rent arrears brought about by Universal Credit payments.

The committee says the introduction of the new benefit has been "beset by delays and problems".

The letter states that evidence heard by the committee makes it clear "there remains much to be done before Universal Credit is working well for claimants and those organisations working with them". 

It adds: "We were concerned to hear that Universal Credit claimants living in rented accommodation are more likely to be in rent arrears than other tenants.

"Croydon Council told us that rent collection for council tenants in receipt of Universal Credit has declined from 98% to 72%.

"Whereas under 10% of tenants are claiming Universal Credit, they account for 38% of Croydon's total rent arrears.

"Similarly, Halton Housing Trust reported that 920 of its 1,058 tenants claiming Universal Credit were in arrears. And while 9% of tenants claimed Universal Credit, they account for 37% of Halton's rent arrears."

The letter also expressed concern about delays in payments being made as it noted the average wait in Croydon was 12 weeks.

The committee stated the slow pace of change was highlighted by the fact 430,000 people were claiming UC as of December 2016, despite the Government forecasting it would be used by six million people at that point.