The government's response to Universal Credit court fine deductions
The government's response to Universal Credit court fine deductions

Many of the people we see on a daily basis have come on an unthinkably difficult journey just to finally secure a settled home. It’s something many of us take for granted. After years of living on the streets, managing to maintain a home, bills and the administrative burden that comes with it is a triumph within itself. But for an increasing number of service users, this hard work and perseverance is being eroded because of huge deductions being taken … Read more

Government announces further delays to the Universal Credit roll-out
Government announces further delays to the Universal Credit roll-out

Earlier this week, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced further delays to the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) because people are not moving onto the new system fast enough. Originally planned to be completed by April 2017, the government are now saying the roll-out won’t be complete until September 2024.

At present, the only people moving to UC are those who have to make a new application because their circumstances changed. The future plan is that claimants will … Read more

Government's plan to raise LHA in line with inflation is nowhere near good enough
Government's plan to raise LHA in line with inflation is nowhere near good enough

Yesterday, the government announced how much housing benefits for private renters will be increased once the current benefits freeze finally ends. The news is not good.

In April 2020, Local Housing Allowance (LHA) – the housing benefit people receive for their private rental costs – will be raised in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which currently stands at a pitiful 1.7%. While any rise in benefit level is welcome, it is completely unacceptable to raise the LHA rates … Read more

Managing money: the importance of autonomy
Managing money: the importance of autonomy

From time to time, we all get into difficulty managing our money. A boiler breaking, a car needing repair, a bigger heating bill than expected. These things can hit us hard and always seem to be poorly timed, particularly if money is already tight. We all have different methods of coping, and different ways of ensuring we keep on top of all the other bills and rent. Some people try to manage by taking the hit in one go; whereas … Read more

Former rough sleepers being hit by maximum universal credit deductions
Former rough sleepers being hit by maximum universal credit deductions

In the last few months, universal credit has been failing some of its most vulnerable claimants. People who have recently moved into settled accommodation after years of living on the streets are struggling to pay for heating and food – all due to huge deductions being taken from their universal credit payments to repay court fines.

What’s happening

The issue of these large deductions was picked up on by our case workers on the Greater Manchester Homes Partnership, an entrenched … Read more

What we learnt from the National Housing Hustings 2019
What we learnt from the National Housing Hustings 2019

On December 12 the United Kingdom is set to go to the polls in a general election for the third time in four years. Right now there are millions of families trapped in insecure private rentals, 1.1 million households on council waiting lists, and, terribly, 135,000 children who will be homeless on Christmas Day. Whoever is in Number 10 after polling day, solving the national housing emergency will need to be a top priority.

Our chief executive, Polly, has written … Read more

Welfare safety net is broken, MPs find
Welfare safety net is broken, MPs find

‘As a nation, I believe we all want a decent safety net: if you’re facing a difficult moment in life, the state should be there to help you.’ – Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, 11 January 2019.

The government says it supports the welfare safety net – but is it still working? Back in December 2018, we submitted evidence to the parliamentary work and pensions committee’s inquiry into the welfare safety net. The … Read more

A united front to ending the LHA rate freeze
A united front to ending the LHA rate freeze

As we revealed last month, homelessness is continuing to rise. The causes and solutions to homelessness are heavily debated. But one thing is for sure – homelessness isn’t inevitable. It can be prevented.

Along with others, including local housing authorities, Shelter has long argued that benefits are to blame. Restrictions to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates are driving homelessness rates upwards. These increases are, also, making it difficult for local authorities to help families out of homelessness and … Read more

Is Universal Credit ready for an expansion?
Is Universal Credit ready for an expansion?

Universal Credit (UC) recently made the headlines for the wrong reasons. Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, came to parliament to correct her statement regarding the National Audit Office’s (NAO) recent report on the government’s flagship benefit. The NAO’s report found that UC is not value for money, and it has significant doubt about its main benefits.

Managed migration makes the problems more immediate

The report’s conclusions became immediate in the last couple of weeks, as plans have been … Read more

Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme
Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme

This week brings a fundamental change in welfare support for struggling homeowners. For more than 70 years, homeowners, who have low incomes and who receive certain qualifying benefits, have been able to claim support from the government, through Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

However, from 6 April 2018 this support is changing. Rather than being paid as a free benefit, SMI will now be paid as a loan and any money claimed from this date onwards will one day need … Read more

7 things to consider when communicating about welfare

You may have seen mine and Paul’s previous blogs about our campaign to soften public attitudes towards welfare, so that political parties will feel less emboldened to implement further cuts, and will work towards improving the system going forward.

We’ve just finished our second pilot of the campaign. We learnt from our target audience and applied some behaviour change theory to our campaigning approach. Here’s seven things we’ve learned (in no particular order).

        

1. Be authentic

The public can tell … Read more

The tenants’ trap

Following the actions of Fergus and Judith Wilson hundreds of private renters have been served legal eviction notices– simply for receiving some housing benefit. According to the most recent National Landlords Association survey just one in five landlords let to people on benefits.

Those in desperate need may turn to their council for homelessness assistance. All local authorities in England have a legal duty to assist people who are homeless, or threatened with homelessness. As the loss of Read more