‘Social’ landlords IMPOSE poverty on the social tenant

UCAPA sees social (sic) landlords impose greater poverty on a greater number of tenants and at a greater speed and hence the alternate title of this being Hey Landlord why UCAPA the tenants knees? 

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Council and Housing Association landlords love Universal Credit’s Alternative Payment Arrangement (UCAPA) as it sees them wiping out tenant arrears debts up to six times quicker than the legacy system and six times more arrears paid off than a court would allow.

A tenant taken to court over arrears sees that court invariably issue a suspended possession order on two conditions of (a) pay the ongoing rent in full, and (b) a sum of £16 per month off the arrears and this £16 per month is what a court assess as the maximum the tenant on benefit can afford to pay.

Yet UCAPA sees the landlord not have to go to court and instead:

  • Takes £99 per month off the benefit household of a couple at source and gives directly to the landlord.  This is 6 times what the court says they can afford and £1000 more per year from the tenant than a court says
  • For a single person or lone parent household the at source deduction is £63 per month which is 4 times more than a court would award and £570 more per year taken from their social security benefit under Universal Credit

The bean counters who run these so-called social landlords are rubbing their hands with glee at each new roll out of Universal Credit! The more Universal Credit in place the lower landlord arrears become in this bugger the social tenant policy.

So much for the claimed social purpose and social ethos of these so-called social landlords who are – by design and action – taking the food out of the mouths of children already on or below the poverty line.

Recently I met a Labour councillor who is on the board of two housing associations who, as is their want, told me just how endemic his left-wing and true socialist beliefs were … yet then proceeded to bemoan the fact that still his housing associations have just over half all Universal Credit tenants getting the rent paid to them and not to the landlord.

That means these so-called social landlords have managed to get UCAPAs on almost half of UC tenants and thus they are taking the 4 – 6 times more off them in arrears payments than a court would allow!

An avowed socialist scrutinising the avowed social purpose HA landlords anyone!!??

I read this morning a very long article in Inside Housing about Universal Credit and how ideological and offensive and dangerous it is.  It is without doubt, yet this article of over 2300 words compared to the usual 750 word that covers many UC aspects fails to mention the UCAPA and the role that gangster social (sic) landlords play in it!  The social (sic) landlord propaganda machine is in full flow as per usual!

A landlord taking between £570 and £1000 more per year off a benefit tenant household than a court would allow and the law says is affordable is that landlord kneecapping the tenant financially.

SOCIAL (sic, sic, sic) landlords are driving the social tenants to the foodbank and to the loan shark by taking £1000 more per year from their subsistence level social security benefits than a court would permit.

These landlords protest vehemently when anyone dares to challenge their claims to have social purpose yet the facts and their actions show they operate a modern-day feudal landlord system as this UCAPA shows as does the fact they evict as many tenants as the bogey man private landlord as again the facts show and as long as Shelter and the Guardian and all the rest miss this elephant in the room by focusing exclusively on the nasty private landlord, these feudal landlords that we mistakenly label social landlords get away with it!

As I said and is fact about the UK rented housing market and the elephant in the room of staggeringly high social (sic) landlord eviction levels:

• UK has 53% private properties and 47% socially rented ones.

• UK evictions show 54% private to 46% social housing evictions.

That lack of awareness has to change as quite frankly a shitstorm is coming with UCAPA and its consequences.  Luckily we only have about 4% of social tenants on UC yet when this increases 25 times in the full UC roll out we will see homelessness and poverty rocket and for which I say cynically yet validly, the likes of the JRF will issue a lengthy report about years after this post claiming to be both exclusive and authoritative.

Rent Arrears?

20 years ago I headed up a project looking at arrears systems for a large housing association at a time when new Housing Benefit claims were taking over 100 days to be in payment and renewal claims typically taking 60 days.  This new system by definition had to look at what arrears actually are and not just technical arrears caused by HB delays which still to this day sees landlord IT systems spew out arrears letters on such technicalities.

That same investigation into what arrears are also found that around 20% of social tenants have credit balances on their accounts.  Yet we never hear about the 1 in 5 tenants who have overpaid and landlords continue to reap interest upon such monies!

Only about 2% of tenants with arrears are to coin a well-used phrase ‘taking the piss’ when it comes to paying rent.  Data has to be processed correctly to become meaningful and not just repeated like mantra as the same IH article did today:

The experience of other areas with full UC is equally troubling. A survey of councils and ALMOs by the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) and the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) found in July that 73% of tenants were in arrears, owing an average of £772.21, up from £611.73 a year earlier. This is far higher than the 31% of tenants in arrears under the housing benefit system.

Yes around 31% of tenants under the majority legacy system of housing benefit are in arrears but every social housing tenancy requires rent in advance and every housing benefit payment is paid in arrears.  That is the nature of the beast and with some 3.25 million social tenants in receipt of HB from some 4.3 million tenancies we see HB being claimed in 3 in every 4 social housing tenancies.

As the HB legacy system creates such ‘technical’ arrears this creates a huge problem with UCAPA.  The UCAPA process of landlords getting 4 – 6 times more in arrears than a court allows flows ONLY from the landlord.

The (feudal) landlord informs UC that a tenant has arrears of more than 8 weeks which both the HB system and the minimum 6 week wait for UC payments to flow creates systemically.  The income officers at landlords inform UC who then (a) pay the old HB direct to the landlord, and (b) also pay the £63 or £99 arrears payment to the landlord.

The first the tenant knows of this is when the additional £63 or £99 per month has been deducted at source and their monthly UC payment is £63 – £99 less than they anticipated.

This UCAPA system has the same principle as the bedroom tax that the social landlord is to be believed without question and the tenant is guilty and then has to prove their innocence!

The social landlord has been granted preferential status by the DWP and the tenant can do little about it.  Under the court system the judges interrogate the claimed arrears position before they make a decision and universally they ask whether the arrears are ‘technical’ ones due to waiting for HB to come onstream (or back onstream as HB departments still cease HB payments if a tenant has their JSA sanctioned and upon which guidance was first issued in early 2010 to say they must not do this!) or the local HB department has made a mistake – and note the vast majority of ‘welfare’ fraud and error data reveals error and not from the claimant but made by decision makers such as DWP and HB departments!

Yet the UCAPA system denies any such due process as the DWP simply believe the word of the landlord and the claimant (the tenant) has no say in the matter whatsoever.

When I posted about this nefarious UCAPA the other day I stated – correctly – that the National Housing Federation, the umbrella group for 1500+ housing associations lobbied hard for this UCAPA process and the above explains why!!

The response to that UCAPA post from social landlords has been the expected one in (a) we didnt design the system its all UC’s fault blah, blah and (b) we are owed this money how dare you say we can’t get it back, blah, blah, blah.  The response from the legal social media cohort is how can this circumvention of what is legally just be allowed in the first place.

Yet the REAL issue is the impacts on social tenants and the undoubted poverty this is creating and will increase 25-fold when UC is fully rolled out.  The media focuses on the JAMs – the just about managing – and they would be thrown into poverty by taking these £63 – £99 per month deductions from so how the hell are social tenants and their children going to be affected?!  The consequence of which are there for all to see and don’t need any comment.

Social tenants are being shafted once again by social landlords and once again shhhh don’t tell anyone and the bullshit mantra of ‘social’ landlords the we have social purpose bullshit prevails because nobody gives a flying f*ck about social tenants especially the feodaric landlords they have!

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PS:  My sincerest and deepest apologies for associating one of the greatest films ever made with these feudal landlords who have the temerity to proffer social purpose!

3 thoughts on “‘Social’ landlords IMPOSE poverty on the social tenant”

  1. “NFA…In ongoing talks with Caroline Nokes MP (responsible for overseeing the implementation of Universal Credit) the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA), the Association for Retained Council Housing (ARCH) continue to lobby for an end to the seven day waiting period for Universal Credit claims.

    In an exclusive comment piece for 24housing about the research, NFA Policy Director, Chloe Fletcher, said the seven day waiting period is “unnecessary pressure on families.”

    She said: “Maybe DWP could do it as a means-tested thing but they have to realise that some people are in a tight spot financially before they go onto Universal Credit and this is supposed to be the safety net that is helping them, not making those financial difficulties worse.”

    Meanwhile while I agree the 7 day waiting and subsequent wait of 6wk average is causing further arrears for some claimants but it isnt as simple as that realistically, landlords can apply but many will be caught via work coach interview which identifies severe or existing debt and money problems.

    Click to access personal-budgeting-support-and-alternative-payment-arrangements.pdf

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  2. The NHF lobbied for a way to mitigate the direct payment element of UC and – correctly – stated the majority of tenants wanted to keep the current system of rent benefit (HB) going direct to the landlord.

    HOWEVER you seem to believe that HAs can ask for say the £16 pcm arrears payment only or some other more affordable payment in UC when they cannot. The UC IT system defaults to 20% of the standard allowance, the £99 and £63 payment levels I state in the post. There is NO OPTION in UCAPA for saying we – the HA – only want £16 pcm instead of these default amounts.
    The bit in the post where I cite a cllr on two HA boards moaning that only just under 50% of tenants have APAs are two HA’s not known for the uber commercial direction of travel of some HAs and in fact have genuinely won awards for their very good social purpose in other areas. That is they are not the usual suspects!
    So, the notion you have of your HA not asking for UCAPAs is mistaken and all HAs are slavering their chops at UC being rolled up especially the Finance Directors who now effectively run HAs

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  3. First up I would agree with you that the claw back rate on UC arrears is horrific, and clearly designed by someone who has never had to live on benefits. I would hope that there is a way to challenge this in court.
    That being said, I would disagree that HAs are queuing up slavering at the prospect of getting their tenants hammered this hard. The NHF lobbied for a direct payment option because history tells us that a proportion of our tenants will get into arrears problems if that option isn’t available. I am not aware that anyone asked for such a punitive claw back rate. My understanding is that there is a reduced rate available at the DWP’s discretion and it is to be hoped that HAs will be asking for that rate to apply in most cases.
    As for the systemic arrears built into UC, certainly my HA has already said it would not be seeking ACAPA for those, and I would expect most to follow suit.

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