Uni­ver­sal credit‘se­ri­ous risk’for ten­ants

Lennox Herald - - NEWS - Lor­raine Weir

Fears have been raised over the“se­ri­ous risk”Uni­ver­sal Credit poses to ten­ants’ abil­ity to pay their rent.

West Dun­bar­ton­shire Coun­cil’s Strate­gic Lead for Hous­ing and Com­mu­ni­ties, Peter Barry made the fright­en­ing claim last week as coun­cil­lors agreed to go ahead with the pur­chase of soft­ware which, it is hoped, will pre­dict which ten­ants will strug­gle to set­tle their bills.

Mem­bers of the au­thor­ity’s hous­ing and com­mu­ni­ties com­mit­tee gave the green light to of­fi­cers to spend £50,000 on Ren­tSense which analy­ses two years worth of data iden­ti­fy­ing ten­ants who may be li­able to de­fault on pay­ments.

Coun­cil of­fi­cers stressed that this will al­low sup­port to be given to ten­ants in fi­nan­cial need at an early stage.

Mr Barry said:“The big­gest risk for us is Uni­ver­sal Credit.The risk to coun­cil tax and rent col­lec­tion rates are a se­ri­ous risk.

“To be able to ad­dress that be­fore it be­comes a prob­lem is crit­i­cal for us.

“The soft­ware is di­rected at con­tact­ing peo­ple who are in rent ar­rears.

“We still need to make bet­ter anal­y­sis rather than wait­ing on rent is­sues be­com­ing a prob­lem.We have got to get into these house­holds when they are in week one or week two to get a pay­ment plan in place.The soft­ware al­lows us to do it.”

Un­der Uni­ver­sal Credit hous­ing ben­e­fit which makes up three-quar­ters of the money paid di­rectly to ten­ants’ rent account, will be paid to the ten­ant them­selves rather than to the coun­cil.

We re­ported in Novem­ber how one in four chil­dren in­West Dun­bar­ton­shire are liv­ing in poverty with char­i­ties work­ing in the sec­tor warn­ing that ben­e­fits changes, in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of Uni­ver­sal Credit are push­ing more fam­i­lies be­low the poverty line.

Coun­cil­lor Jim Bol­lan pre­vi­ously re­ferred to Uni­ver­sal Credit as“the big­gest at­tack on our wel­fare sys­tem since it was in­tro­duced.”

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