SNP MP Drew Hendry has backed a new campaign from The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, England’s National Housing Federation, Community Housing Cymru and the Northern Irish Federation of Housing Associations, which calls for a radical overhaul of the Universal Credit system, to protect people from the threat of eviction.
The multi-agency campaign has joined together to warn that the Universal Credit system is “flawed” and causing debt, suffering and hardship for the families they house. They report that two thirds (65%) of Universal Credit tenants in Scotland are in arrears, compared to less than a third (32%) for all other tenants.
This follows a report by the Residential Landlords Association, which found that 29% of landlords have already evicted a tenant for UC rent arrears, while Universal Credit Rent arrears is cited as the main reason private rented sector landlords seek to evict tenants.
Mr Hendry – whose constituency was one of those selected to pilot Universal Credit – has long campaigned for the UK government to halt the rollout of its flawed Universal Credit project.
Commenting, he said:
“The UK Government tell us time and time again that Universal Credit is working, all whilst ignoring the mountain of evidence showing it is not.
“Even the National Audit Office has called them out on their attempts to mislead people and on failures to deliver a workable or value for money service.
“Meanwhile, Scottish tenants are forced to live under a cloud of debt, and face the worry of eviction because of failed Tory ideology –
“Rent arrears, first time debt, evictions, long delays to payments, short payments, lost sicknotes, misplaced documents, failure to respond, confusion between departments, and an inability to respond to common sense are rife.
“There is a systematic lack of care shown to those most vulnerable in our society and the burden of these ill-thought out processes is left with the third sector and Local Authorities.
“At the end of last year, the Highland Council reported it was holding over £1.6 million of arrears accrued as a direct impact of Universal Credits. In other parts of the Highlands, Housing Associations wrote to all tenants to ask that they pre-pay rent because of the expected arrears to come, with the rollout of Universal Credit to other Highland areas.
“This cannot go on –
“With so many Scottish tenants still to be moved over to Universal Credit, the Tories must put an end to the uncertainty and give landlords and tenants much needed financial security during transitionary periods to Universal Credit – or even better halt the whole fiasco so these issues can be fixed.’