A new report from the National Housing Federation has found that a staggering 98% of housing associations who were asked are concerned about their tenants’ capability to cope with monthly budgeting when Universal Credit is introduced.
The Federation’s final report from its major research project looking at the effects of welfare reform on housing associations and their tenants added that 94 per cent of housing associations are concerned about their tenants’ capability to access online systems.
In August 2012, the Federation commissioned Ipsos MORI and the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research to undertake a programme of research to understand the impact of welfare reform on housing associations and their tenants. The research project has predominately focused on the impacts of two reforms – the ‘bedroom tax’ and the introduction of Universal Credit.
The final report provides an overview of the findings from qualitative interviews and surveys of housing associations and tenants.
It found that housing associations have invested significant time and resources to minimise the impacts of the bedroom tax and while the overall number of tenants in arrears because of the bedroom tax has fallen, the situation for those who are in arrears has got worse.
The average arrears amount, for all tenants in arrears, has increased since autumn 2013 with housing associations reporting that 64 per cent of affected tenants in arrears are in that situation because of failing to pay the bedroom tax.
In-depth interviews with tenants revealed the emotional as well as the financial cost that welfare reform is causing. Those interviewed talked of the stress that the bedroom tax has caused, either by feeling forced to move home or by having to find the extra money needed.
On the introduction of Universal Credit, the research found that 92 per cent of tenants say they would prefer their housing benefit to be paid directly to their landlord.