Tenants urged to ask for help with Universal Credit

Support available

Depute Leader

Council tenants with financial concerns are being urged to seek advice through the council's money advice service.

This follows an increasing concern for tenants getting into financial difficulties, a rise in rent arrears and uncertainty around applying for benefits, including Universal Credit.

Councillor Paul Kelly, Depute Leader of North Lanarkshire Council said: "We know that poverty is affecting many residents in our communities, particularly since the initial roll-out of Universal Credit. We have seen a substantial increase in the number of people falling into arrears with their council rent payments and as a council, we want to do all we can to help people prevent this situation.

"The UK Government's Universal Credit system has created huge uncertainty and concern for many of our tenants when it comes to paying their rent. We are also aware of significant delays with payments by the DWP which is unacceptable.

"I would urge an immediate rethink of this system and the reinstatement of rent payments direct by default to landlords to assist the payment process."

From 4 April this year, Universal Credit replaced the following benefits for new claimants only, anyone who was already receiving these benefits prior to April is not affected at this time.

• Housing Benefit

• Income Support

• Working Tax Credit

• Child Tax Credit

• Income-based Jobseekers Allowance

• Income-based Employment and Support Allowance

If you were claiming any of these benefits before April this year, you can't claim Universal Credit at the same time. The DWP will be in contact with you to transfer you from your current benefits onto Universal Credit in due course.

Councillor Paul Kelly, continued: "For people worried about the impact of Universal Credit there is a support available to tenants and low-income families facing these unprecedented challenges with the benefit system.

"I would encourage people to contact the dedicated 'income maximisation' team which has been put in place to support tenants on Universal Credit with a specific focus on prevention measures and early intervention, such as carrying out financial assessments to identify any financial entitlements.  

"People can get practical assistance including digital access at our libraries to apply online, debt advice, financial support and advice on budgeting through the council's Financial Inclusion Team. The team can also look at offer some flexibility with payments in certain circumstances, to help those most in need if people make contact to ask for assistance."

If you need any advice about Universal Credit call the 'Your Money' line: 01698 403170

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