Calls for Universal Credit housing benefit to go automatically to landlords

  Labour have called for the housing element of Universal Credit to be paid directly to landlords.   In the current system, claimants can choose to have their benefits paid directly towards rent, but, according to research by Scottish Labour, less than half of those eligible do so.


Now the party has called for the housing element to be paid straight to landlords in all instances, with claimants having to chose to opt out.  


Scottish Labour said the number of households in Scotland that receive the housing element of Universal credit is 75,138.  


Read more: Landlords ‘not prepared’ for implications of Brexit  


Of those, 43,266 are not signed up to direct payment, with just 31,872 opted into the automatic system.   Labour Social Security spokesman Mark Griffin said Universal Credit is pushing thousands of families in Scotland into rent arrears through no fault of their own.  


“The SNP’s Scottish Choices have helped fewer than half of tenants eligible. Using new social security powers to ensure housing benefit is automatically paid direct to landlords to protect the roof over people’s heads is a no-brainer.  


“Across the country, thousands are suffering the misery of Universal Credit, and are still having to juggle paying the rent heating their home or eating.  


Read more: Petition calling on Rightmove to ban landlord adverts barring benefit claimants hits 36k signatures  


“We need to do more to prevent arrears building up, risking low-income families becoming homeless.”  


A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We think it is important that individuals have the choice about whether or not to have the housing cost element of their Universal Credit award paid to their landlord, just as they have choice if they are paid monthly or twice monthly.  

“In line with our social security principles of respect, dignity and fairness, we support people to make an informed choice based on their own needs and what works best for them.”  


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24th April 2019