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MP and council welcome government attempts to resolve universal credit problems

PUBLISHED: 10:26 20 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:26 20 December 2017

Waveney District Council has welcomed government attempts to resolve universal credit issues. Picture: James Bass

Waveney District Council has welcomed government attempts to resolve universal credit issues. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2015

A government decision seeking to resolve issues faced by universal credit claimants regarding rent payments has been saluted by Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Waveney District Council (WDC).

Local authorities such as (WDC) and other temporary accommodation providers have stated they were being left with large arrears bills due to the six-week wait that claimants faced.

Claimants in temporary accommodation were therefore not receiving their first universal credit payment before they move out of the accommodation; rent for the accommodation therefore remained unpaid.

Mr Aldous has worked closely with WDC and government ministers to make improvements to the system, and met with employment minister Damian Hinds MP and the WDC leader - the late Cllr Colin Law - to discuss ideas.

Mr Aldous said: “I’m pleased that the secretary of state has recognised the difficulties universal credit claimants were experiencing with the housing element of their claim, and that the government will be making the necessary amendments.

“Although I agree with the principle of universal credit moving people into work and out of poverty, as a local MP I heard concerns from constituents about the way this particular item was working within universal credit and I made appropriate representations to government.

“I am encouraged that this has been reviewed and acted upon with the view to a longer term solution.”

Cllr Craig Rivett, WDC’s cabinet member for customer service, added: “Whilst we recognise there are benefits to universal credit, we’re pleased the government has acted on our advice.

“We will continue to work with the Department of Work and Pensions to identify further improvements.”

Other upcoming improvements include:

• A transition period of two weeks for those moving from housing benefit to universal credit payments (from April 2018).

• Abolition of the seven waiting days at the start of a claim (from February 2018).

• Repayment of universal credit new claim advances extended from six months to 12 months; amount the claimant can receive will increase from 50pc to 100pc of their notional universal credit award (from January 2018).

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