Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, today asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to reconsider the roll out of Universal Credit in Swansea this December.
Writing to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Carolyn Harris MP said:
“Coastal Housing, one of Swansea’s leading social housing providers, tell me that almost 90% of their tenants currently on the pilot scheme for Universal Credit in Swansea are already in arrears of an average of nearly £900.
Mid December sees the full roll out of the scheme in my constituency. This will mean many vulnerable people will be left desperate over Christmas.
Is the Minister going to be able to offer them room at the Inn or will they be left struggling like so many others before them?“
Coastal Housing currently have 97 tenants claiming Universal Credit as part of the current system, of which 88 tenants are in rent arrears averaging £831 each.
The application process consists of a seven day waiting period, a four week assessment period, then up to seven days waiting for the first payment to reach the claimant’s account. The seven day waiting period at the beginning of this process does not cover entitlement to housing costs, which leaves many claimants at a disadvantage from the very beginning.
On 13th December 2017, the ‘full’ Universal Credit service will be introduced to Swansea, replacing six existing means-tested benefits (Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit).
With Universal Credit hitting Swansea just 12 days before Christmas, many of the most vulnerable people in Swansea will be left destitute over the Christmas and New Year period while they wait up to six weeks for their first payment, at a time when many support services are closed.
There are currently 1,811 people claiming Universal Credit in Swansea as part of the pilot scheme, this is expected to increase to several thousand during 2018.