Universal Credit survey: how is the coronavirus crisis affecting rent arrears?

15 July 2020

The coronavirus outbreak is affecting everyone, including housing association residents who may be experiencing reduced or no income at the moment. This could lead to an increase in rent arrears. To understand this further, we are running a short monthly survey to monitor the impact of coronavirus on rent arrears and any relationship this may have with Universal Credit.

Thank you to all our members who have completed the survey so far – responses covered about a third of housing association stock in England. We share the results with members who complete it, along with DWP and MHCLG officials. We use the evidence it provides to suggest further improvements to Universal Credit, and to evidence the impact of the coronavirus crisis on residents and housing associations.

When more housing associations respond to our surveys, we are better placed to accurately represent our members’ views.

If you work for a housing association, we would like you to share your views by completing our short survey. You will find the link for it on this page when it's next live.

Results from our Universal Credit and rent arrears survey June 2020

The amount owed by residents to housing associations (rent arrears) has increased significantly. This suggests that previous problems relating to Universal Credit and rent arrears have remained, and are now at a larger scale.

However, the proportion of residents claiming Universal Credit who are in rent arrears has not increased. This is a positive sign that Universal Credit has continued to cope almost as well as it did prior to the coronavirus crisis, which is a testament to how well the DWP and its systems have responded to the sudden influx of claims.

These findings should be considered provisional until we have more information from further surveys.

Who to speak to

Sue Ramsden, Policy Leader