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ARLA Propertymark provide evidence for Universal Credit debate in Parliament

Friday 19 January 2018

On 9 January 2018, Stephen Lloyd MP (Liberal Democrat, Eastbourne) led a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament about the effect of Universal Credit on the private rented sector, citing figures from ARLA Propertymark as evidence as to why further reform of Universal Credit is needed.

Westminster Hall debates are an opportunity for MPs to raise local or national issues and receive a response from a Government Minister. 

Opening the debate, Mr Lloyd talked about the importance of evidence when understanding the impact of Universal Credit and said, “34% of ARLA Propertymark letting agents who we surveyed told us that they had seen a reduction in landlords renting to Universal Credit claimants.”

He also explained that, “In the past 12 months, the RLA [Residential Landlords Association] reports, one in three landlords has attempted to evict a tenant; 60% were due to rent arrears, and the majority of those were on universal credit” and "...the National Landlords Association, found that only one in five of its members would let their properties to tenants on universal credit.”

Mr Lloyd urged the Government to, “do what it takes to make defaults to landlords, by mutual tenant-landlord agreement, automatic; and to go over to Northern Ireland…find out exactly what their computer programme does that allows colleagues in Northern Ireland to do automatic default payments, follow their two-week advice — I would do the same on that —and implement it across the country.”

The Member of Parliament for Eastbourne concluded by saying, “I am absolutely certain that if landlords know that they will get a default payment, over a couple of years there will be a substantial increase in the amount of private rented stock available to people on universal credit, and that could make a significant difference in reducing homelessness.”

ARLA Propertymark is a member of the DWP Universal Credit Private Rented Sector Strategic Landlord Group and has worked hard to lobby for change in order to improve how Universal Credit works hard for the sector.

We have campaigned for a reduction in the six-seven week period that claimants have to wait before they can begin to receive Universal Credit. We have also lobbied the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ensure that tenants should have choice over whether their housing element of Universal Credit is paid direct to their landlord.

More needs to be done but at the Autumn Budget 2017 the waiting period was reduced to four weeks and the Government said they will make it easier for claimants to have the housing element of their award paid directly to their landlord.