Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/942/25155
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 (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:
What we think
Unite against terror, racism and war
Socialist Party news and analysis
NHS: protest, strike, occupy to win!
No to racist scapegoating: oppose the far right
Top banks post 67% of profits in tax havens - nationalise the banks!
Prescription and dental charges to rise again - fight for a free NHS!
Homelessness agencies accused of being complicit in coercive deportations
Leeds Labour councillors resign over cuts
Times makes call for Tory entryism
Martin McGuinness: from IRA leader to Stormont minister
Russian revolution 1917-2017
April 1917: how the Bolsheviks reorientated
Workplace news and analysis
Doncaster: snap strike by posties pushes bully bosses back
Over a thousand march with Durham TAs against 23% pay cut
Join the 31 March PCS pay protest
Bridgend Ford overtime stoppage in sourcing dispute
Forest Hill school in Lewisham fights back
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
International socialist news and analysis
South Africa: Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia
Belarus: movement developing against regime
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Jobstown Not Guilty: defend the right to protest
Angry march against Bradford council-approved incinerator
GMB union should support anti-fracking campaigners in Fylde
"Save our Nurseries", Tower Hamlets campaigners tell the council
South Yorkshire Freedom Riders celebrate three years of fighting
Memorial meeting remembers Bernard Roome
Save Plymouth's libraries!
May Day greetings in the Socialist
The Socialist 29 March 2017 |
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