Eviction Notices - Gamma Newsletter - 30th Nov 2017

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Budget 2017: Fierce critics win universal credit reform

The government made changes in the budget to its new welfare scheme because it was feared that the policy was forcing landlords to desert the housing rental market. Philip Hammond announced a package of changes to universal credit worth £1.5 billion after facing widespread criticism, including from Sir John Major, charity chiefs and council leaders. The new welfare scheme combines six means-tested benefits, including housing benefit, into one payment. While claimants on legacy benefits had their housing benefit paid directly to their landlord, after the changes they are expected to pay rent from the single payment.
23rd Nov 2017 - The Times

Universal credit boss wins "project management" award despite evidence that claimants are plunged into hardship

Theresa May has been told to close a loophole that allowed a lettings agency to issue pre-emptive eviction notices to tenants ahead of the extension of universal credit – because of expected rent arrears. Meanwhile, food bank organisers say they have ordered an extra 2,000 tonnes of Christmas food, to prepare for more people going hungry after moving onto the benefit. The Independent revealed how the Government is refusing to investigate evidence of a 30 per cent leap in the number of claimants seeking emergency food aid in areas already reached by universal credit.
22nd Nov 2017 - The Independent

Labour attacks universal credit as "not fit for purpose"

The shadow pensions secretary, Debbie Abrahams, has written to the chancellor demanding changes to UC, which Labour and other critics say is putting people in debt as it is rolled out into new parts of the country. The main request is to reduce the initial six-week wait for a payment under the system, which is designed to replace a range of other benefits such as tax credits and housing benefit. Charities working with claimants have said the six-week wait tends to put people into arrears, especially with their rent, and means they have to seek support from food banks. There has been speculation the government is planning to reduce this period.
20th Nov 2017 - The Guardian

Chancellor, keep a million children out of poverty. Fix universal credit

As it is being rolled out, universal credit is pushing people into debt and rent arrears, with many people in social and private rented housing being served eviction notices. The six-week wait for the first payment built into the design has been shown to be the key driver of this debt, even in households that weren’t in debt previously. In Greater Manchester, where universal credit was first piloted, the average arrears are now £824, compared with £451 for non-UC tenants. No wonder the Trussell Trust is reporting that demand for emergency food parcels is 30% higher in areas where universal credit is being rolled out; more people are turning to food banks to bridge the gap.
19th Nov 2017 - The Guardian

Grimsby MP wants "pre-emptive" eviction notices to be made illegal

Grimsby's MP is calling on the Government to “close the loophole” which allowed GAP Property to serve “pre-emptive” eviction notices on hundreds of its tenants. Melanie Onn , MP for Great Grimsby, slammed the company’s move, branding it “an outrageous way to treat people”. She said it had left GAP Property’s 350 tenants “stressed and worried about their futures”.The housing management company wrote to all its tenants warning them they faced being turfed out of their homes if they were late paying their rent due to universal credit delays. The letter gave tenants early warning of their two-month eviction notice, meaning residents could be made homeless in mid-January if they are late paying rent.
17th Nov 2017 - Grimsby Telegraph

Gap Property director defends eviction notices saying "we had no other choice"

The director of Gap Property has defended its decision to send residents pre-emptive eviction notices ahead of the Universal Credit roll-out. He said: "We had no other choice, my business could go bust". Gap Property sent letters to most of its tenants informing them that they had been served a two month eviction notice ahead of the Universal Credit roll-out, saying that if they fall behind on their rent they will be asked to leave the property and that losses will be recovered from their guarantor. The director of the company Guy Piggott said that if he had not made this decision then his company could be left in a dire financial state in the new year, and that the intention was simply to warn tenants of the upcoming benefit changes so that they are able to plan ahead and prepare.
15th Nov 2017 - Grimsby Telegraph