Universal Credit will be operating in all Jobcentres and local authorities from February 2015, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, announced recently.
What is Universal Credit?
Duncan Smith explains: “Universal Credit is a vision for a new welfare settlement; a welfare state fit for the 21st century, a testament to the hard work of Jobcentres and local authorities that we are now implementing it.
“It has now rolled out in the North West of England – to couples, shortly to families, to more than one in eight Jobcentres by Christmas – safely and securely as I always said.”
Duncan Smith announces when Universal Credit will be used around the country: “I can announce that we are going to accelerate the delivery of Universal Credit from the New Year, bringing forward the national rollout through 2015/16 to every single community across Great Britain.
“Secure national delivery, yet at the same time, delivering that life change at a local level; strengthening community partnerships, helping vulnerable households. Not just helping the economy, but reducing child poverty as well.”
The announcement has come as a shock to many, who thought it might be introduced at a later date. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has urged landlords to get organised before things change.
What you need to do
Universal Credit is already operating in more than 50 Jobcentres in the UK. This will rise to over 100 by Christmas.
Universal Credit trainer at the RLA, Bill Irvine, dealt with the Jobcentre branch in Bolton that was part of the pilot scheme. He warns landlords that the time for planning is over and they must ensure that they can deal immediately with Universal Credit.
Irvine is concerned that the Department for Work and Pensions is not ready for the scheme to be rolled out. It will affect 1.6m tenancies, but Irvine is not convinced that the Government can cope with this demand.
Landlords must make sure that they understand the scheme to avoid any rent arrears. Remember to check whether your landlord insurance covers rent guarantee to cover you if this does arise.