Tribune believes that Great Yarmouth should follow in the footsteps of other Councils that offer schemes to protect Universal Credit recipients from falling into rent arrears through no fault of their own, by offering to cover the cost until their payments come through.
Tribune party members have spoken to residents affected by issues with the Universal Credit system, as well as landlords who let to those in receipt of benefits. Our research revealed several things:
- The initial application process for Universal Credit is lengthy and bureaucratic
- Even minor changes in personal circumstances can result in long delays for continued payments
- In some instances, people have found themselves forced to make use of food banks or at risk of eviction from their homes
Universal Credit should not lead to homelessness, therefore we propose to introduce a rent guarantee scheme to ensure that those who are transferred to Universal Credit or other social benefits, do not lose their homes. This will ensure that those individuals – some of whom are often the most vulnerable people in our society – are able to maintain a roof over their heads, as well as giving confidence to private landlords that those tenants transferring to such benefits will be able to meet their rent commitments.
The consequences of doing absolutely nothing is clear. Should a family on Universal Credit be evicted, the Council has a statutory duty to house them. Therefore, the Council would have to pay to provide them with suitable accommodation – often resulting in substantial cost to the Council. Through our proposal the Council could recover all money paid out. This is a cost neutral policy which benefits all concerned and adheres to our social responsibilities.