COUNCIL HOUNDING UC CLAIMANTS FOR RENT

20th March 2019

MP WRITES TO NLC LEADER TO END FREQUENT RENT LETTERS TO TENANTS IMPACTED BY UNIVERSAL CREDIT

Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, has written to North Lanarkshire Council leader, Cllr Jim Logue, to call for an end to frequent letters to council tenants behind on their rent due to Universal Credit waiting times after a constituent came forward.

UC claimants previously had to wait six weeks for their first payment, but after a campaign from SNP MPs this was reduced to five. However, the waiting period is still leading to many people falling behind on their rent.

A constituent, who wishes to remain anonymous, came forward to say that he received a letter reminding him of his rent arrears every two weeks despite remaining in regular contact with housing officers and agreeing a payment plan to clear arrears.

Mrs Fellows says that frequent letters can put undue pressure on people already experiencing hardship and has called for a review of how rent arrears are managed.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“The Tories’ shambolic Universal Credit scheme is needlessly pushing people into hardship and rent arrears. NLC should not be placing further undue pressure on people. There must be a review of procedure.

“Many people claiming Universal Credit are already struggling. Letters act as a frequent and harassing reminder of their hardship. This can be especially difficult for people suffering from mental health issues who can easily be pushed into a situation where they don’t want to face up to their arrears exacerbating the problem.

“The SNP was successful in forcing the UK government to reduce the waiting time for peoples’ first UC payments from six to five weeks. But this is still far too long and causing problems for tenants, councils and housing associations.

“NLC must collect rents, but there is absolutely no need for people to be hounded. There has to be a greater degree of understanding and fairness.

Commenting, the affected constituent said:

“Despite making NLC aware of my situation, keeping in regular contact and sticking to the agreed payment plan, I continued to receive letters from them. “It’s harassing to receive so many in such a short space of time. NLC really needs to recognise the impact it can have on people. Thankfully, it didn’t affect me greatly, but it could cause a great deal of stress for others who are struggling from having to wait for their first payment.”