Coun­cil’s £1m fund for sys­tem

Uni­ver­sal Credit fall-out

East Kilbride News - - NEWS - Mark Pirie

Tak­ing ac­tion

A £1 mil­lion fund has been cre­ated by South La­nark­shire Coun­cil to deal with the im­pact of the Uni­ver­sal Credit roll­out.

Coun­cil chiefs stated that the re­form to the way ben­e­fits are paid has al­ready had con­sid­er­able ef­fects on the their in­come and costs.

They state that rent ar­rears, for those af­fected by Uni­ver­sal Credit, have risen dra­mat­i­cally while in­creased re­sources have had to be di­rected to­wards deal­ing with the ef­fects on coun­cil busi­ness and on help­ing the peo­ple across the re­gion.

The con­tro­ver­sial Uni­ver­sal Credit sys­tem is now in place for hun­dreds of job seek­ers in East Kil­bride and Avon­dale.

Uni­ver­sal Credit op­er­ates as a sin­gle pay­ment to work­ing-age claimants and is paid monthly.

Ap­pli­cants re­ceive a sin­gle pay­ment and pay rent di­rect to their land­lord.

The first pay­ment is made around six to seven weeks af­ter sub­mit­ting an on­line claim.

Daniel Lowe, ex­ec­u­tive director of hous­ing and tech­ni­cal re­sources, said: “We have known for some time that last month would be when the Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions would move Uni­ver­sal Credit to the ‘full ser­vice’ stage across our area and that it would cre­ate dif­fi­cul­ties for many more peo­ple who re­ceive ben­e­fits and for the coun­cil as we work to help those peo­ple.

“As a re­sult, we have planned for that sit­u­a­tion to al­low us to be as well­pre­pared as it is pos­si­ble to be for some­thing where the ex­act con­se­quences can­not be ac­cu­rately de­ter­mined in ad­vance.

“In do­ing so, we set aside £1.187m as part of this year’s bud­get specif­i­cally to help off­set the im­pact of Uni­ver­sal Credit be­com­ing a full ser­vice.

“This sig­nif­i­cant amount will be used as we con­tinue to sup­port coun­cil ten­ants af­fected by the wel­fare re­form pro­gramme, and pro­vide sup­port and as­sis­tance to those af­fected by the un­der oc­cu­pancy pro­vi­sions and the ben­e­fit cap as well as those in re­ceipt of Uni­ver­sal Credit.

“The work to date has made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion in terms of sup­port­ing those af­fected to deal with the im­pact of the changes, as well as min­imis­ing the im­pact upon the coun­cil bud­get and ser­vices.”

Since the in­tro­duc­tion of the first phase of Uni­ver­sal Credit’s live ser­vice in South La­nark­shire in Oc­to­ber 2015, an av­er­age of 50 ten­ants have made a claim ev­ery month.

It would cre­ate dif­fi­cul­ties for peo­ple...

The coun­cil has es­tab­lished a Uni­ver­sal Credit fight­ing fund

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