Cash owed to Doncaster Council through rent arrears could rise due to Universal Credit problemsÂ
Cash owed to Doncaster Council through rent arrears could rise dramatically due to problems transferring tenants onto Universal Credit.Â
Deputy Mayor Coun Glyn Jones told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday the council was '˜on track' and '˜ahead of target' but the rateÂ of transfer for tenants onto Universal Credit was '˜greater than previously envisaged'.
Documents seen by councillors show the local authorityÂ now hasÂ 1,869 UC cases -Â 92 per centÂ of these are in arrears.Â
This is an increase of almost '˜500 cases' compared to last the quarter.
Universal Credit is replacingÂ six separate income related benefits such housing benefit and jobseekers' allowance into one payment.Â
But the scheme and the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) haveÂ been widely criticised with claimants waiting weeks for payment.Â Â
Latest figures show the council is owed Â£2Â million before the introduction of UC.
Deputy Major Jones said the rate of transfer onto UC has been greater than the forecast provided by the DWP.
This meansÂ the amount of rent the councilÂ hasÂ to collect instead ofÂ being paid direct via the old housing benefit system, is greater than originally anticipated at Â£9 million.Â
Work is said to be continuingÂ with tenants and DWP to provide '˜intensive support' such as applying for '˜Alternative Payment Arrangements' (APAs) where appropriate. AroundÂ 30 per centÂ of UC cases are currently on an APA.Â
Henrietta Davies, operations manager at Citzens Advice Doncaster said Universal Credit referrals were a now a massive part of their workload and the issue has intensified in the last six months.
'This is a big issue that we are seeing '“Â week by week we're seeing more cases about Universal Credit,' she said.Â
'This is both on applying for Universal Credit and while waiting for payment. It's causing a lot distress.
'The people who are supposed to help who are in work are making errors '“Â it not just about the claim itself it's there's also problems whileÂ people areÂ claiming.
'There are big concerns from claimants about theirÂ living situation. We are seeing referrals coming in from St Leger for their clients.'