The National Audit Office (NAO) is conducting a study on the Department of Work and Pension’s (DWP) progress on the move to Universal Credit, ahead of a report to be published early 2024. The NHF has responded to this study to make sure the welfare system works for residents of social housing.
At the NHF, we know housing associations are committed to ensuring their residents have the resources they need to afford the essentials, especially during a cost-of-living crisis. That’s why we welcome this study, and its aims of measuring the progress of the DWP’s move to Universal Credit.
Our members provide vital advice to their residents on welfare, taking compassionate approaches to rent collection and offering employment and skills programmes to support their residents. The welfare system has an essential role to play in ensuring that everyone in our communities has a basic right to the essentials they need to thrive.
Around 6 million people currently receive Universal Credit, and in April 2023, the government started their expansion process to move another 2.5 million people from legacy benefits to Universal Credit. The work the DWP is doing to make sure the Universal Credit system is effective is vital to supporting communities through a cost-of-living crisis.
This study by the NAO seeks to examine whether the DWP is making good progress in replacing legacy benefits with UC, looking at the progress so far, and how well-placed the DWP is to manage the move effectively.
In our submission, we reflect that the DWP’s work is vital to ensuring Universal Credit is effectively supporting people. We urge the DWP to review the system, including uprating benefits, limiting deductions from Universal Credit, removing benefit caps and penalties to address the financial pressure faced by social housing claimants to alleviate the crisis.
We also raise concerns about how Universal Credit is calculated for people with weekly tenancies during years with 53 weeks, leaving claimants short by one weeks rent. To solve this issue, a legislative amendment is needed to change the Universal Credit system.
Please get in touch with us through the contact details below if you have any questions or would like further clarification on our response to the study. This study is a key opportunity to influence the future migration of Universal Credit and bring attention to any challenges encountered by housing associations.