Universal credit‘serious risk’for tenants
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.”