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Scottish government praised by Residential Landlords Association for stance on Universal Credit

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Online newspaper LandlordToday has reported how the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is urging the UK government to follow Scotland’s lead in relation to Universal Credit.

The Universal Credit scheme is gradually replacing some of the existing benefits and tax credits such as:

  • Housing benefit;
  • Child Tax Credit;
  • Income support;
  • Working Tax Credit;
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance;
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

It is being rolled out across the UK and, by 2022, the scheme should be fully in place.

The scheme has attracted a lot of negative press attention, with concerns raised that claimants are being forced to use food banks because of the mandatory six-week wait to receive money under the scheme, which aims to simplify the welfare system by rolling six benefits into one.

This may also place a burden on landlords with DSS tenants who, under the Universal Credit scheme, will no longer have their rents paid directly to the them, as well as the knock-on effect of their tenants being paid Universal Credit in arrears.

Under the Scottish government, however, their so-called “Scottish Flexibilities” mean new online claimants can choose to have Universal Credit paid fortnightly rather than monthly.

After evidence from Universal Credit pilots highlighted how some people fall into arrears when housing costs are paid to them directly, claimants living in Scotland can elect to have the housing elements of the benefit paid directly to their landlord.

Vice chairman of the RLA Chris Town, said: “Allowing tenants to choose to have their rent paid directly to landlords will enable them to better plan their spending and will prevent many from falling into arrears. It will also give confidence to landlords to rent to those on benefit giving tenants more choice.”