Universal Credit: Two years after it was introduced in Great Yarmouth

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' Catastrophe' or making work pay? Lessons from Fantastic Yarmouth in Universal Credit

RELEASED: 08:06 30 May 2018|UPDATED: 08:43 30 May 2018

Terrific Yarmouth Food Bank has actually seen a 90pc increase in use since Universal Credit was presented in April 2016. The DWP said it was wrong to connect the rise to the advantage changes. Image: James Bass

It is two years since Universal Credit pertained to Great Yarmouth. What impact has it had on the town?

Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire< img alt =" Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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. jpg jl4xlkeze > Image: Danny Lawson/PA Wire Soaring need at food banks, occupants being evicted and property owners left without rent.The town was one of the very first locations in the country to check the Federal government's flagship welfare reform, which replaced great deals of different advantages with a single payment.Universal Credit has been rolled out across the rest of the region, including King's Lynn, Lowestoft and Dereham and is meant to be presented to Norwich this October.Despite the issues it has triggered, Norwich City Council stated it was all set for the change. Councillor Karen Davis

stated:" We have actually been working to ensure our residents, especially the most susceptible, are prepared."< img alt=" Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis

Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis defended Universal Credit.
Picture: James Basssafeguarded Universal Credit Picture: James Bass" width= 465 hklkg8y1 =/ polopoly_fs/ 1.5539529!/ image/image. jpg_gen/ derivatives/landscape _ 630/image. jpg jl4xlkeze > Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis defended Universal Credit Photo: James Bass Complaintants in Yarmouth still report issues of being paid too much some months and underpaid on others.And one of the greatest headaches it has actually triggered is for occupants and landlords.Rent defaults have actually surged as occupants have to wait for the very first payment, leaving

them without money.Landlords report some tenants leaving without paying rent when they got the very first payment.While under the

previous housing advantage system the lease was paid straight to the landlord, it goes to the claimant under Universal Credit.Landlords can use to get the rent straight from the

DWP.< img alt=" ELA chairman Paul Cunningham Image: Nick Butcher"

ELA chairman Paul Cunningham.
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/ derivatives/landscape _ 630/image. jpg jl4xlkeze > ELA chairman Paul Cunningham Picture: Nick Butcher They are still unwilling to take on Universal Credit occupants, according to

Paul Cunningham, chairman of the Eastern Landlords Association.He described the system as "disastrous" for renters and

" unfeasible" for property owners." My members suffer improperly trained JobCentre personnel who provide inconsistent suggestions, difficulty in calling the DWP and long delays prior to the claims are set up for payment," he stated.

Liz Townson, from Great Yarmouth Food Bank, stated the effect was still being felt.

Food bank usage is up 90pc considering that April 2016 in the town.

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) representative stated: it was "wrong" to link the increase to any one cause.

Landlord
Jacqueline Esposito.
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. jpg jl4xlkeze > Landlord Jacqueline Esposito Photo: Nick Butcher The DWP said claimants were now moving into work

quicker and remaining in work longer.They likewise said "considerable improvements "had actually been made with in the last two years. A spokesman for Terrific Yarmouth Borough Council stated it was supporting other

councils where Universal Credit is being rolled out.They said:" Feedback supplied to the DWP by Great Yarmouth and the four other early adopter areas led to the Government announcing in November some favorable modifications to the UC claim procedure, which must enhance the transition process for other locations where UC is going live in the coming months."

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1.5539532!/ image/image. jpg_gen/ derivatives/landscape _ 630/image. jpg jl4xlkeze > Image: DWP Jade Warren, 23, moved over to Universal Credit from Employment and Assistance Allowance (ESA) 17 months ago.But last month she and her partner, who have a 17-month old child, were paid too much by ₤ 300, as her partner had actually worked more hours.

" When we attempted to provide them the cash back we were told that we might refrain from doing so," she said.

" They said they would need to put us into debt and after that get in touch with a financial obligation agency to obtain the cash back but this could take months.

" They have actually forced financial obligation upon us through a mistake of their own.

" We asked if we could call the financial obligation company and deal to repay the loan however HMRC told us we might not even do that as it would take months for the DWP to tell the company about our financial obligation.

" We would have to spend months in debt enjoying our credit report go down.

" I went to Brandon Lewis' workplace. They said it was taking place rather a lot."

Property manager Jacqueline Esposito rents to dozens of occupants on Universal Credit.But she said

her rent arrears had actually increased by ₤ 4,000 a year as housing advantage is now paid direct to renters instead of to the landlord.To ensure she makes money she uses to get the real estate benefit aspect paid to her for some susceptible tenants.But she stated:

" Over the last 2 years I've had concerns with direct payments being organized. Often I have actually had tenants who have dependencies or money management issues or might have come to me without any deposit so I have actually always gotten the lease."

She said under the real estate benefit system, which was administered by the council, it was a "three-way collaboration" between occupant, council and landlord.But now it can be six

to 8 weeks before landlords are paid. "I have actually tried my best to prevent

evicting individuals," she added." Rather typically the occupant is a victim of the procedure." -' Issues not gone away'Chairman of the

Eastern Landlords Association, Paul Cunningham stated:" The issues haven't gone away. "We all knew it was going to be problematic when it was very first brought in and there has actually been practically no improvement because time. "My members in Yarmouth hesitate at finest to take Universal Credit complaintants whereas previous to that if

they were on housing advantage there would've been no issue." I know the homeless levels have actually gone up, we have a soup wagon we never utilized to have. I also know food banks in Yarmouth are overrun." I have actually had to serve more repossession notices in the last 2 years than the last 10. "Individuals who are being victimised in all of this are the

tenants through no fault of their own." He said for property managers, the absence of interaction with the

DWP was also a problem. "You go through to a call centre and 9 times out of 10 they won't

discuss it with you, "he stated. -' Each month there was an issue'

Debbie, 50, from Yarmouth, went off operate in November to have an operation on her foot and started declaring Universal Credit." All in all it is a good system however monthly there was a hold-up, "she said.Some months she was overpaid and on other months she was underpaid." The issue was my employer was not stating my sick pay on time," she stated." It was late each month( the

sick pay declaration )so they provided me full Universal Credit.

" I was expected to obtain about ₤ 400 a month, however got ₤ 600. "They then took it off the following month and put me into 'debt management'.

" In spite of many sees to the JobCentre in Yarmouth and calls to

the DWP she stated it took 5 months to obtain the correct payments." I was so depressed by it all, "she said." I was phoning them two to 3 times a day. It was all over the place.

" Every month there was an issue. "Universal Credit was brought in under the Coalition Government to simplify welfare by

putting various benefits into one payment.Yarmouth's Conservative MP Brandon Lewis said it had actually brought "basic change to the welfare system" by making certain work paid." Research studies have actually shown Universal Credit claimants are more likely to move into work than claimants on Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), which they do so faster," he said.

He said it provided plaintiffs more responsibility over handling their financial resources. Mr Lewis stated changes had been made to resolve problems about payments not being made fast enough.The seven-day waiting period was eliminated in February so privilege starts on the first day of the application.He asked anybody in

Yarmouth having issues with Universal Credit to call his office on 01493 854550 or [email protected]!.?.!The DWP said "considerable enhancements" had been made to Universal Credit considering that it was introduced.A representative said:" Universal Credit lies at the heart of our dedication to

help individuals improve their lives and under it individuals are moving into work faster and staying in work longer compared to the previous system.

" We've made considerable improvements, such as getting rid of the seven waiting days, paying 2 weeks'

extra real estate support for plaintiffs moving onto Universal Credit and increasing advance payments to 100pc." Landlords can also apply to have lease paid directly to them if their tenants are in defaults." They said property managers who could show evidence an occupant was in 2 months' financial obligations would get a payment which assisted decrease the risk of arrears.The DWP included it had established a' Proprietor Portal' that allows social property managers and DWP to share information more easily.

Source

http://www.greatyarmouthmercury.co.uk/news/universal-credit-great-yarmouth-benefit-reform-two-years-later-1-5539533

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