Social (sic) landlords create tenant poverty in Universal Credit

kirkless apa 35%

The above is a tweet put out in the last hour from a social (sic) landlord in Kirklees which has trusted (sic) partner status with the DWP over Universal Credit.

Note well that 35% of social tenants on UC have an alternative payment arrangement (APA) that is much more sinister than it reads.

It means as I pointed out here that the social (sic) landlord has requested that six times more in arrears payment than a court would allow is taken at source from the tenant Universal Credit and paid to the landlord directly.

The landlord is directly creating much higher levels of tenant poverty by taking £99.87 per month in arrears from a tenant when a court award would only allow £16 per month to be taken from the tenants benefit income.

Social landlords lobbied government for this system which systemically creates tenant poverty by taking six times more from the tenant for arrears than a court would award.

Almost £84 per month less to put food into the mouths of the tenant’s children; Almost £84 per month less to clothe children; Almost £84 per month to pay for heating; £1000 per year more taken from tenants by greedy bastard social (sic) landlord who do not give a flying fuck about the social tenant.

Kerfuckingching!!

____________________________________

The detail

A court typically awards in a suspended possession order two conditions of (a) the tenant pays full rent and (b) a sum of £3.70 per week off the arrears.  If either condition not met and tenant breaches order the landlord seeks a full possession order.

Courts have long held and decided that the benefit household cannot afford more than £3.70 per week which equates to 5% of base benefit and also to £16.09 per calendar month off arrears.

Under Universal Credit the landlord applies without any need to inform tenant for the APA when arrears have reached 8 weeks for a weekly tenancy or two months for a monthly one.  The APA is automatically awarded to the landlord and deducted from the tenants UC at source.

The UC IT system defaults to 20% of the UC standard allowance of £317.82 for  a single person over 25 or lone parent  which is £63.56 pcm which is four times what a court would allow; and 20% of the couples UC standard allowance which is £99.87 pcm and six times greater than a court allows.

NB – Social landlords lobbied for this despicable system and the Tories agreed

The UC regulations say that a tenant can ask for the arrears payment to be reduced to 10% of the UC standard allowance [£31.78 / £49.94 pcm] yet (a) that is still double what a court would sanction for a single person / lone parent and three times what a court would allow for a couple.

Yet the UC person you speak to over the phone invariably has to be told this is permissible under UC regulatins, then they have to agree to it, and then they have to get a supervisor from another UC department to manually override the UC system to apply the 10% UC reduction rather than the 20% deduction.

Arrears?

All social tenancies require payment in advance so a weekly tenancy is a week in advance and a monthly one a months rent in advance.

The monthly tenant is typically one month in arrears due to HB being paid in arrears and this is largely theoretical arrears and seen that way correctly by social landlords before UC became operative.  Yet we know UC takes at least 6 weeks to issue the first payment and thus the monthly tenant is 10+ weeks in arrears by the time the first UC payment arrives.  However two weeks before that the landlord informs UC that the tenant rent account has gone into 8 weeks+ of arrears and the APA is applied.

The tenant / UC claimant only realises that either £63.96 or £99.87 has been deducted for arrears that did not exist from his or her first UC payment.

The social tenant household moving onto UC thus finds their first payment has a massive shortfall to what they were expecting and that the systemic UC wait for the first payment has plunged them into rent arrears.

Before the right-wing trolls and ideologues get on their errant high moral horse, there are 1.1 million families in work and in receipt of housing benefit and this will affect them too not just the proverbial ‘benefit scrounger’ claiming ‘welfare.’  Those in low paid employment may be forced to walk to work or even give up employment because of this APA that their social landlord has imposed on them that a court never would.

Imposed on the social tenant by those landlords who remind us daily in their pithy PR that they have social purpose and social ethos and who lobbied for this outrageous system.

Note too that when a tenant does have existing arrears of paying full rent and £3.70 per week imposed by a court through a suspended possession order that UC totally ignores this.  The UC IT system can ONLY impose a 20% or 10% deduction and cannot reduce this to the typically 5% arrears payment that the courts have decided is all the household can afford.

This is cruel and inhumane and quite how the law allows UC at the behest of landlords to impose such a dire poverty-inducing deduction at source is offensive and legally perverse.  Yet UC allows a total of 40% deductions at source  … and if you read the UC regulations carefully and literally they can permit a 100% deduction and the payment of nothing at all.

Universal Credit holds many such truly offensive aspects that will become common knowledge when it rolls out more and all of those who said it is fine in theory will wholly retract that superficial and errant belief and be calling for it to be abandoned a they should always have done.

New UC regulations and varied ones have been issued like confetti ever since it became law in 2013 and have largely gone unnoticed except by the real ‘geeks’ who have worked in the welfare benefit arena for years and even in some cases by them.  This is not just a lack of democratic and parliamentary scrutiny, which is bad enough, it is in many cases due to the DWP realising that UC forgot about aspect A or regulation B has a previously not considered impact and all other forms of ‘oh shit we didn’t expect that to happen ‘ … and this is the major reason for the hugely lengthy roll out.

When UC does roll out to the non-easy cases which is typically all it covers now we will see hundreds of these ‘oh shit we never expected that‘ moments from the DWP and further statutory instruments issued piecemeal to try and save this turkey of a policy.

It needs to be abandoned not delayed.  UC is not fit for purpose and never can be.  It is quicker and more cost-effective to rip it up and start again yet politically that can never be admitted for loss of face reasons by the Tories for this ‘flagship’ policy.  That flag may well as be the Jolly Roger as claimants whether working or not are being jolly rogered by this farrago.

 

2 thoughts on “Social (sic) landlords create tenant poverty in Universal Credit”

  1. Linda

    The UC IT system defaults to 20% and can only be changed to 10% by being manually overridden by a supervisor if the tenant requests this and the tenant first knows of this only when they receive their UC and before that they are kept out of the process.

    The 35% APAs – Yes but it could be 1% or all of this 35% cohort

    “We would like to to be able to request … 5%…” – but that is not in the UC regulations and I’m sure we all would like a Ferrari too.

    Totally agree that APAs set at too high a level but the APA was lobbied for and got by housing associations in the first place so a case of reap what you sow

    Finally 10% makes a tenancy unsustainable never mind 40%

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Joe. I work for a social landlord, and this is not quite correct. A social landlord can apply for an APA to receive the housing cost element direct (Managed Payment for Rent); on the same form, or subsequently we can also apply for the rent arrears direct too (Third Party Deductions) – and as you say set at a rate of 10 or 20%. So when Kirklees say that they have 35% on APAs, I think this is the % of tenants for whom they are receiving the Housing Cost element direct, rather than 35% of people having their rent arrears paid direct. In the main we don’t ask for this as we know that it is set at a high level. We also recognise that the 10 or 20% bears no relationship to what a DJ might order – indeed we would like to be able to request the arrears figure to be set at 5% in order for this to marry up with any court order. I agree 20% is much too high, and 40% makes a tenancy unsustainable.

    Liked by 1 person

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