SNP MP Drew Hendry has condemned the UK government’s shambolic Universal Credit (UC) roll out, which he claims is putting up to 71,000 Scottish tenants renting in the private sector vulnerable to eviction because of long waits for Universal Credit payments.
The comments come as figures sourced from the House of Commons Library shows that around 71,000 tenants in Scotland’s private rental sector are in receipt of Housing Benefit.
Yet, as of June 2017 only 7,153 of those tenants had been moved over to Universal Credit, leaving tens of thousands of Scottish households vulnerable to eviction as the controversial scheme rolls out further throughout 2018.
Mr Hendry – whose constituency was one of those selected to pilot UC – is calling on the UK government to put in place proper transitional protection to cover rental payments for people moving from legacy benefits to Universal Credit.
According to the Residential Landlords Association, 29% of landlords have already evicted a tenant for UC rent arrears, and the same report found that Universal Credit Rent arrears to main reason private rented sector landlords seek to evict tenants.
Drew Hendry says new measures introduced by the Chancellor to give Universal Credit claimants receiving Housing Benefit a two week transitional payment, did nothing to help the thousands of Scottish tenants who are facing months of delays to payments but still have to pay their to a private landlord.
Drew Hendry said: “The UK Government tell us time and time again that Universal Credit is working. They are wrong – it isn’t and Scottish tenants are paying the price. They should not be forced to live under a cloud of debt, and face the worry of eviction because of failed Tory ideology.
“There are very few landlords who will be satisfied with a two week payment when waiting for their tenants to navigate through a punishing universal credit system.
“Indeed, many simply cannot afford the uncertainty of not knowing when the next rent payment is coming.
“Universal Credit is designed to create debt by default and is creating a legacy of long term hardship for families and delivering lasting harm to our communities.
“In the November budget, the Chancellor said “excessive debt undermines our economic security”, the difference is that the UK government has choices, many in debt because of Universal Credit have no options.
“With tens of thousands of Scottish tenants still to be moved over to Universal Credit, the Tories must put an end to the uncertainty and give landlords and tenants much needed financial security during transitionary periods to Universal Credit – or even better halt the whole fiasco so these issues can be fixed.”