Socialist Worker

Universal Credit linked to rent arrears

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2593

A Dpac protest

A Dpac protest (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Nearly three quarters of all tenants on the Universal Credit (UC) benefit in East Lothian, Scotland, are in rent arrears.

That’s a “significant rise” since UC was introduced, according to a report released last week.

The figure compares to 30 percent of all tenants.

The average rent arrears owed by a UC claimant in East Lothian are £967.24.

The average rent arrears owed by tenants not claiming UC are £497.31.

A local Citizens Advice Bureau conducted a survey of clients in January 2017 to look at the impact of UC. East Lothian was the first place in Scotland where UC’s “full digital service” was rolled out.

It said, “If all 134 respondents claimed Universal Credit rather than legacy benefits at the end of January 2017 there would be a net reduction of £2,923.55 per week paid out to claimants.”

UC will eventually affect seven million households, including more than one million low-paid workers.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies think tank estimates that 2.1 million households face an average loss of £1,600 a year.

Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) said disabled people are particularly hard hit by UC.

For instance, the benefits Enhanced Disability Premium and Severe Disability Premium don’t exist under UC.

But many disabled people rely on such benefits to get by.

“The whole system of Universal Credit is a shambles,” Ellen said. “It can’t be fixed—it has to be scrapped.”

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.