ARCH chair Councillor Paul Ellis, chief executive John Bibby and
colleagues from the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) met Lord
Freud on 14 December to discuss the preliminary findings from the
latest ARCH/NFA Welfare Reform survey, prior to his retirement as
Minister of State for Welfare Reform.
The meeting had been called in advance of the publication of the
full findings of the survey due to the Minister's impending
retirement at the end of December. Caroline Nokes MP, Parliamentary
Under Secretary of State for Welfare Delivery, who will take on
this aspect of the Minister's brief, was also in attendance.
This was the third in a series of meetings with the Minister
held to discuss the findings of the survey - all of which have
demonstrated a higher proportion of tenants claiming Universal
Credit in arrears of rent compared to tenants overall.
The latest survey was carried out in November 2016 and covered
33 stock retaining councils and Arm's Length Management
Organisations (ALMOs). The full findings will be published in the
New Year and will report figures as at 30 Sept 2016. This follows a
surveyconducted in April/May, which reported figures as at 31 March
2016. The findings will report longitudinal findings across the 20
organisations who previously completed the survey and overall
findings from all 33 participating organisations.
Universal Credit (UC) was introduced in April 2013 as the
central plank of a wide ranging series of Welfare Reforms. This
system was introduced by the 2010 Coalition Government, to make
work pay and to encourage benefit claimants into full time work. UC
combines the following benefits and tax credits: Jobseeker's
Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Child
Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Housing Benefit into one single
monthly payment. Universal Credit has been rolled out gradually but
by May 2016 it had been rolled out nationally to all Jobcentre Plus
offices for single claimants, and is continuing to be expanded to
include all claimant types via the full service.
As at 30 September 2016, our survey respondents housed a total
of 7,535 households who were in receipt of UC. Twelve of these
organisations are based in the North of England, nine in the
Midlands, eleven in the South and one in South West Wales.
Collectively they manage a total of 456,959 homes. This survey
provides an update on the impact of UC on levels of rent collection
while exploring some of the factors which may be pushing more UC
claimants into arrears.
While Ministers' gave no indication of any change in policy (for
example by allowing tenants to elect at the outset for direct
payment of UC to their council landlord) it was agreed to continue
the ongoing dialogue with Ministers as UC is rolled out across the