This post was first published by My London on 12/04/2019.
Universal Credit is ‘making people homeless’ in Croydon
People are suffering massively from delayed payments.
More people have been made homeless because of the introduction of Universal Credit (UC), a Croydon Council committee meeting has heard.
The means-tested benefit was rolled out in Croydon back in 2016 as one of the pilot boroughs.
And there are currently about 27,000 people in Croydon who receive the benefit.
It was introduced by the Department for Work and Pensions and rolls six benefits into one.
The benefits are then paid monthly with a six week wait for the first one.
But when it was first introduced in Croydon there were delays of up to 13 weeks leaving some in ‘critical’ situations.
At a meeting of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board on Wednesday, April 10, Councillor Alison Butler said she believes there has been an increase in homeless applications since then.
The cabinet member for homes and gateway services said: “It has led to a lot of difficulties for Croydon people the delays in payment, although much improved now, resulted in really critical situations and homelessness.
“Some of the other issues around it is that benefits are frozen for four years
“That means for the most vulnerable people their income has been frozen.
“And everyone is aware of what rents in Croydon are like – private rents have gone up which means people have lost money to look after their families.
“They have to foot the bill.”
She added that she thinks ‘digital poverty’ is also a factor in the issue as all applications must be made online.
Paul Garlick, service manager for Gateway Services at the council said: “We had to work with transitioning people [to universal credit].
“They were used to being paid weekly but some people really struggled with the transition of having to wait for a month.”
And he added that it is the most vulnerable in Croydon that this has been hardest for.
“Imagine someone really vulnerable with a drug or gambling addiction,” said Mr Garlick.
“If they get a £2,000 payment I guarantee that won’t go straight to rent.”
He added that the service identifies and works with people like this with solutions including the money being paid directly to their landlord.
For more information on Universal Credit visit, www.croydon.gov.uk/advice/benefits/universal-credit
If you’ve been affected by the issues here, please email our reporter with your story to firstname.lastname@example.org