Additional money for Universal Credit Assistance Fund

More tenants to benefit from £500,000 extra funding

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We're adding an additional £500,000 to our Universal Credit Assistance Fund and providing more help to tenants falling into rent arrears due to built-in waiting times for Universal Credit payments.

The fund, which is in place for council tenants struggling with the impact of making a Universal Credit claim or migrating to the benefit, has already helped over 2,300 tenants with financial support of more than £730,000. The original £1m allocation has reduced as we're supporting tenants and families in greatest need.

The Housing and Regeneration Committee agreed to add the additional funding to offset the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic which has seen a sharp rise in the number of people finding themselves out of work and claiming Universal Credit.

Convener of the Housing and Regeneration Committee, Councillor Heather Brannan-McVey, said: "We're encouraging tenants who have fallen behind with their rent payments not to ignore their financial plight and to get in touch and find out how we can help.

"We understand that with unemployment figures rising some people have seen a change to their financial circumstances and are facing challenges presented by waiting times for Universal Credit payments.

"Our fund has already provided vital assistance to tenants and their families facing difficulties and on low incomes. We understand the real worry and stress that financial hardship causes - that's one of the reasons we've put this fund in place and supplemented it."

Tenants eligible to receive assistance must be new Universal Credit Claimants; their arrears are caused by the five week waiting period for receipt of their first Universal Credit payment; be able to repay the fund via an affordable arrangement and have no existing former arrears for tenant/joint tenant.

Tenants struggling to pay their rent should contact their local housing office immediately. We have dedicated income maximisers who will help support tenants with Universal Credit and can identify any additional financial assistance they may be entitled to. Please contact the Rents Team Helpline on 01698 524811 to arrange a visit from an advisor.

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