Universal credit 'could be beginning of the end' for homeless charity
A HOMELESSNESS charity has said the introduction of universal credit could be the beginning of the end of its service — which would leave young people with nowhere to go.
The Bolton Young Persons Housing Scheme (BYPHS) provides temporary suppor-ted accommodation to vulnerable people aged 16 to 25, who are made homeless after suffering with addiction, family breakd-own and other issues.
The scheme is run in partnership with other agencies, including housing associations and registered social landlords.
These offer accommod-ation through housing benefit, which is paid directly to them.
Now BYPHS director Maura Jackson has raised concerns that the introduction of universal credit — which will mean claimants will have to pay landlords directly themse-lves — could jeopardise the future of the charity.
She said: “If the housing benefit costs are paid directly to the client, the onus is on them to pay it and we’re talking about people with high support needs, severe mental health problems and addictions.
“There’s no way they are going to be able to budget about £1,000 a month. With peer pressure alone they would struggle.
“Some of our young people have people chasing them for repayments of debts, and these people are not pleasant, they are not going to reasonable. We’re going to see people frogmarched to cash points at the beginning of the month.
“It’s going to lead to a massive cash flow problem, and it’s going to jeopardise our security.”
Sharon Betton from the North West Landlords Association, based in Bolton, said its members have expressed concerns about letting to benefit claimants after the introduction of universal credit.
She added: “Landlords do not want to be unkind when they say they will not take benefit dependents, nor do they think badly of tenants in saying the rent is better paid direct to them — but they do know their tenants.
“They understand the difficulties of managing on a limited income and the temptation, therefore, that a rent payment of £400 will give them.
“Tenants unused to mana-ging their money will make landlords worry that they cannot cope, despite statistics provided by the DWP that 78 per cent of claimants were confident they could budget.”
Speaking exclusively to The Bolton News, welfare reform minister Lord Freud said hostels that provide temporary accommodation will be exempt from universal credit. In the cases of vulnerable people it was possible to receive exemptions from the sch-eme which would allow benefits from the claimants to go to the landlords.