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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 March 2017

Universal Credit is making the housing crisis worse

March for Homes, London, 31st January 2015, photo Paul Mattsson

March for Homes, London, 31st January 2015, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

David Fenwick-Finn, Manchester and Trafford Socialist Party

The roll-out of the 'Universal Credit' benefits system seems to be making an already desperate social housing situation a whole lot worse.

Figures from the housing organisation 24 Housing are shocking. 86% of all social housing tenants on Universal Credit are in rent arrears, compared to 31% of all social housing tenants. These numbers, from January 2017, are up from 79% in March 2016.

And 59% of Universal Credit claimants in social housing have arrears that amount to more than one month's rent. This is a result of sanctions, the 42-day gap between the initial claim and receiving money, and mistakes made in payments due to an unfit-for-purpose IT system.

As if this wasn't enough, the average amount of arrears across all households in social housing has risen from 321 in March 2016 to 615 in January this year.

To this toxic mix we can now add people in work who are presently in receipt of tax credits, but are to be switched to Universal Credit, in the process of the 'roll up' of all the various benefits into one.

One of the pilot schemes for this is, in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester. I'd recommend a brilliant blog by Charlotte Hughes called 'The Poorer Side of Life', which documents the weekly demo she and her helpers hold outside Ashton-under-Lyne Jobcentre.

So what's the situation in Greater Manchester? For a start, we have 80,000 across the ten boroughs waiting for social housing, according to the Housing the Powerhouse campaign.

It has proven difficult to obtain figures for evictions due to problems with Universal Credit. But anecdotally, talking to professionals in the homelessness service, a lot of the people they're seeing seem to have got into debt and arrears due to problems with Universal Credit.

Councils and social housing providers claim they are doing all they can, but it is becoming increasingly clear that this is wholly inadequate. There must be a lot more pressure, involving residents and workers, exerted on councils and the government. The only way things are going to change is through collective action.

The Greater Manchester 'Devo Manc' deal allocates 300 million for housing - but this can only go to private developers. What is needed is a massive public house-building programme. Nationally and regionally, this must be the central demand of any housing campaign.

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In The Socialist 29 March 2017:


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Join the 31 March PCS pay protest

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Dispute against backdoor privatisation of mental health services

Ballot papers go out in Unite elections

Fujitsu strikes: Manchester and Warrington

Deliveroo victory in Leeds

TUSC backs RMT struggle against Merseyrail


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Universal Credit is making the housing crisis worse

Save Cardiff's live music venues

Women need secure jobs and equal pay, not patronising 'returnships'

Why I Joined: "I joined Socialist Party to campaign to save the NHS"

The Socialist Inbox


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May Day greetings in the Socialist


 

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Related links:

Housing:

triangleStarmer in full retreat over C-19 rents crisis

triangleHomes needed to end overcrowding

triangle'Worst crisis in housing since World War Two' - Barking Riverside inquiry into fire

triangleSelf-isolation class divide: decent homes for all!

triangleOrganising in the workplace in the time of coronavirus

Universal Credit:

trianglePCS union demands better deal for benefits claimants

triangleUC stopped without warning

triangleNew BBC series - Insight or whitewash?

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: A socialist programme on housing

Manchester:

triangleManchester & Salford Socialist Party: What does the general election result mean for 2020?

triangleManchester & Salford Socialist Party: The State and the lessons for the labour movement

triangleManchester Socialist Party: The fight for a minimum wage that workers can live on

Greater Manchester:

triangleArriva Rail North under pressure after nineteenth Saturday strike

Benefits:

triangleUniversal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism

Tenants:

triangleHow working-class tenants beat Gentrification

Households:

triangleWhat we saw

Claimants:

triangleFight for safety, staffing and services - Covid chaos for benefits claimants

Homelessness:

triangleHomeless left on streets during pandemic

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