Welfare Advisors were polled on a range of questions related to Universal Credit and welfare Reform.
A group of around 200 welfare advisors from housing associations, local authorities and voluntary sector organisations attended two workshops hosted by Westminster Briefing on Universal Credit.
The findings from the Universal Credit Poll are posted below, and supplemented by links to further research and reading:
- Less than 5% of frontline delivery staff feel positive about Universal Credit.
- 61% of advisors see Universal Credit as their biggest welfare reform challenge, followed by Housing Changes (19%).
- The majority feel that the benefit system is being complicated by changes to council tax benefit and social fund loans. Only 9% disagreed with this.
- 86% of welfare advisors feel that they and their organisation have been insufficiently supported in the transition to Universal Credit.
[A JRF Report argued the successful implementation of UC requires timely and thorough staff training]
- Slightly more agree than disagree that it is right that social tenants should be expected to manage payment of their rent (46% versus 41% respectively).
[However, a Policis Report found that 86% of social tenants believe ‘strongly’ that it is better for Housing Benefit to be paid direct to the landlord to ensure that they are secure in their home]
- Unsurprisingly, 92% feel that the direct payment of Universal Credit to social tenants would increase rent arrears.
[However, earlier LHA pilots found that fears of large scale arrears were not realised – although tenants in social housing have higher levels of exclusion and are more likely to be vulnerable than tenants receiving LHA in private housing]
- Around half believe that housing associations and local authority and private landlords do not know which of their tenants will need help in managing their rent payments under Universal Credit. A third disagree, suggesting that these providers do know which of their tenants will need help.
[In recent DWP research 45% of participants said that they would need support to claim and manage their claim online.]
- Just under three quarters feel that the ‘digital by default’ delivery of Universal Credit will isolate and exclude the most vulnerable claimants and customers.
- 64% feel that the single monthly payment of Universal Credit will ultimately streamline and improve the benefit system.
[Though SMF research found that claimants ‘already had a great deal of responsibility in managing their tight budgets and that increasing this would represent a greater burden and an obstacle to financial resilience’]
- Almost as many believe that the single monthly Universal Credit payment will fail to make work pay and encourage people into employment as believe that it will succeed in contributing to this goal (29% versus 36% respectively).