Benefits Hampshire Stakeholder news

Universal Credit

We’re here to provide support to all our customers on Universal Credit (UC). That’s nearly 1,500 people. We keep a close track of customers making a new claim and also those who are struggling to pay their rent and going into arrears. This is by offering support with money advice and benefits, digital skills and employment and training. UC is live across our area of operation. With details of the migration to the full service still pending from government and ongoing design issues, it continues to be a challenging time for many of those needing to claim.

 

It clearly works for some, but often the most vulnerable are ending up worse off than under the previous benefits system. Just some of the design issues impacting customers, which many of you will be aware of are:

 

  • Claims need to be made online, which isn’t suitable for everyone
  • Payment of UC is based on circumstances and income during the monthly assessment period. This doesn’t match with the wage payment cycles for many of our customers, and can mean that their UC increases or decreases even though their wages remain static
  • Transition to a single monthly payment under UC from the previous benefits system is making it harder for customers to budget and manage their finances throughout the month, and this often happens at a very difficult time -  for example relationship breakdown or death of a partner or child
  • Lengthy wait time for first payment – Without an advance payment, claimants won’t get any money until at least 5 weeks after they apply for UC. Advances are possible but are very limited, need to be repaid and reduce the amount customers have to live on going forward.

 

Derek Streek, Head of Neighbourhoods at VIVID, said: “What we’re experiencing is customers falling increasingly into arrears with their rent and those with frequently changing household, employment or family circumstances finding themselves particularly in debt. We provide a triage service to customers making a new UC claim to offer them the support they may need with the transition between the old and new benefits system, and any ongoing support after their UC claim is live. We’re strongly committed to making sure those living in our homes benefit from the support and advice we can give them.”

Key facts and figures relating to our customers:

  • Number of UC claimants: 1,482
  • UC claimants in arrears: 1,234
  • % of UC claimants in arrears: 83%
  • Total value of arrears: £1,031,760.75
  • Average arrears per claimant: £836.80.

We’re strongly committed to making sure those living in our homes benefit from the support and advice we can give them

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