Steep increase in rent arrears in Sheffield since introduction of Universal Credit

More people in Sheffield are missing rent payments since the introduction of Universal Credit, with the total loss in money expected to increase by two million in the next couple of years.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Monday, 20th January 2020, 9:50 am

More people are missing rent payments since the introduction of Universal Credit (UC), with the total loss in money expected to increase by two million in the next couple of years.

More than 16,600 people are on Universal Credit in Sheffield - which was rolled out in the city at the end of 2018.

Since it started Sheffield Council has reported a steep increase in the amount of rent money that has not been paid - also known as arrears.

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More than 16,600 people are on Universal Credit in Sheffield - which was rolled out in the city at the end of 2018. Picture: PA.

And officers are expecting it to rise even more.

They estimate total arrears to hit £10.1 million by 2023 - an increase of nearly two million since autumn 2019 and even more since it was introduced.

In a report, Tim Hardie and Cat Arnold said they should have seen figures start to level off by now but are still seeing a steady rise. Despite this, it is still lower than they initially expected.

They wrote: “Despite this upwards trend the council housing service have revised down its arrears projections because arrears, so far, are not as high as originally anticipated.

“The reduction reflects the good work by council housing to support their tenants, as well as the strong cross-agency collaboration in the city to work together to mitigate the impacts of UC. Despite the improvement, the impact is still significant, with current projections.”

Universal Credit replaced six benefits with one monthly payment per household which helps pay for rent, bills and other costs.

Officers also highlighted a concern that UC claimants were not claiming council tax support, even though they were eligible, and are now looking at ways they can make sure they received the support they need.

They said: "The number of council tax support cases has reduced since the introduction of UC.

"Analysis has been carried out into this reduction which suggests that at least some of it is due to UC claimants not claiming CTS despite being eligible for it.”