Mayor of Hackney urges Government to delay roll-out of Universal Credit

Hackney Town Hall

The Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, David Gauke, urging him to delay the roll-out of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is due to go live in Hackney in June 2018, but pilots in other London boroughs have proved “disastrous” says the Mayor, “with well document reports of vulnerable residents feeling confused and distressed, a significant spike in rent arrears and an increase in the use of food banks.”

He adds: “About 40% of existing claimants who incurred debt and arrears have never done so before. That is a significant number of people who have previously managed their finances well who are now on a downward spiral of debt and potential homelessness. More generally, the pressure on recipients will undoubtedly have an impact on the mental health of some claimants, as well as the wellbeing of their dependents.”

The Mayor goes on to raise concerns about support for the over 48,400 Hackney residents set to be affected. He said: “Traditionally, residents have turned to their local council for support relating to benefits. Universal Credit severs the link between local authorities and the DWP. Where now we are able to provide residents with advice specific to their case, under Universal Credit our staff will no longer be able to access the DWP’s system to find out about our residents’ claims.”

Across the country, pilot areas have seen rent collections drop dramatically, impacting on councils’ ability to invest in social housing maintenance.

He closes by saying: “A recent report from The National Audit Office made it clear that the Government’s welfare reform has driven homelessness, which The Smith Institute’s report concluded that the process of Universal Credit has “significant implications for councils and the wellbeing of the individuals themselves…Universal Credit is the single biggest change to welfare and benefits this country has ever seen and I urge you to take this opportunity to pause and reflect.”

The full letter is available to download on the right of this page (or, if you are viewing on a mobile, below)