Citizens Advice and National Federation of ALMOs call on the Government to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit

Monday 31 July 2017

In their report ‘Delivering Universal Credit’, Citizens Advice ask the Government to pause the roll-out of full service Universal Credit (UC) to enable time to fix the problems that have become evident in full service UC areas.

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In their report ‘Delivering Universal Credit’, Citizens Advice ask the Government to pause the roll-out of full service Universal Credit (UC) to enable time to fix the problems that have become evident in full service UC areas. The report, compiled using data obtained from a representative survey of people seeking advice in Universal Credit full service areas as of May 2017 finds:

  • More than one in three people are waiting in excess of six weeks to receive any income, and 11 per cent are waiting more than 10 weeks;
  • 30 per cent of people have made 10 or more calls to the helpline to sort out their claim at a cost of up to 55p per minute, and often have to wait over 30 minutes to get through;
  • 40 per cent reported that they were not aware they could get an advance payment to help with the initial waiting period for their first payment, and more than half borrowed money whilst waiting; and
  • Clients on UC are nearly one and a half times more likely to seek advice on debt issues compared to those on other benefits

In their report ‘Pause for Thought’, the National Federation of ALMOs (arms-length management organisations) ask the Government to pause the roll-out of full service UC as almost three quarters of tenants on UC were in arrears compared to only 31 per cent of the overall tenant population.

The survey consisted of 58 questions on a range of areas related to welfare reform. It was sent to all members of ARCH (Association of Retained Council Housing) and the NFA (National Federation of ALMOs) in May 2017. The research on UC found that:

  • Approximately 2.6% of households living in council and ALMO owned homes have moved onto UC;
  • Of these, nearly three quarters were in arrears (73%). The total arrears deficit for UC claimants across 37 respondents was £6.68 million, or approximately 10% of the total arrears bill;
  • 40% of UC claimants in arrears were not in arrears prior to going on to UC;
  • On average, UC households in arrears owed £772.21;
  • 56% of UC households in arrears had arrears totalling more than one month (average arrears of £890.31); and
  • Of those who could provide data, approximately 22% of UC households in arrears had been presented with notices of intention to seek possession (NOSPs); approximately 9% were being pursued with court action; and approximately 1% were being evicted.

 

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