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NHC Publishes Third Universal Credit Impact Report

Today sees the release of the Northern Housing Consortium’s Impact of Universal Credit Round 3 report. This is the third in a series of four reports and builds upon the results of the first two, covering the period March-July (all three of which can be accessed from the NHC’s website here). The research investigates how the implementation and continuing rollout of Universal Credit is affecting housing organisations in the north.

We are now able to collect trend data and comparisons are made in this latest report with the findings of the previous reports. The latest report also draws comparisons between the full survey results with the returned data from North West respondents to ascertain whether having worked with the Universal Credit system longer has an effect on respondents’ experiences of the system. Some of the key findings from the Round 3 report are:

  • More than one-fifth of respondents said that tenants had terminated their own tenancy as a direct as a direct result of UC.
  • Almost all of the responding organisations are having to step in and assist tenants with the cost of living.
  • Half of organisations have introduced credit reference checks to prospective tenants as a result of UC implementation – double the figure in Round 2.
  • There is a move to debiting tenants’ rent accounts in arrears as 90.6% of those that debit accounts in advance have experienced problems.

We continue to use findings from the research to engage with the Department of Work and Pensions officials through NHC’s roundtable programme to raise members’ concerns and experiences of procedural issues and we will work with DWP to make the new system as smooth as possible.

The final round of the survey will be announced in the NHC eZine but there is also a dedicated contact list for anyone interested in taking part in the project. To ensure you are able to participate, please contact Business Intelligence Officer Barry Turnbull at barry.turnbull@northern-consortium.org.uk.

Universal Credit Research Update

The first report of NHC’s research into Universal Credit has been published and can be downloaded from our website here. The research investigates how the implementation and continuing rollout of Universal Credit is affecting housing organisations in the north and some of the headlines from round 1 are:

  • 5% of respondent organisations have intervened in some way to help tenants with the cost of living
  • Average level of rent arrears of Universal Credit claimants in participating organisations has risen by 41.1% since roll out
  • More than three-quarters say staff spend more time supporting tenants through Universal Credit that through Housing Benefit claims

It is important that we get a picture of how UC is impacting member organisations over time to take robust evidence to our discussions with DWP and the second survey is now available to be completed here. We would really appreciate it if you could complete the survey by the 29th July deadline. Thereafter, the data analysis will take place with the second report being published in early August. As was the case in the first round, there will also be a focus group to collect more qualitative information next month.

There will then be two final rounds of research and reports. The next questionnaire will be published in November, while the final round will begin in February with the final report being published in March 2017. As well as gathering information from the surveys and focus groups we’d be very interested in hearing from members that have case studies to share to provide real life examples to our discussions with DWP. If you could share any such information, please contact Barry Turnbull at the email address below.

Contact:

Barry Turnbull
barry.turnbull@northern-consortium.org.uk

Universal Credit Research Update

The first round of surveys for the NHC’s Universal Credit research is now complete and data analysis and report writing is underway. The project is designed to collate intelligence around the on-going issues for participating organisations and their tenants/residents during roll out of Universal Credit.

The next project milestones will be:

  • Publication of Report 1 (May)
  • Round 2 survey distributed (June)
  • Focus Group 1 (mid June)
  • Publication of Report 2 (July)
  • Round 3 survey distributed (September)
  • Focus Group 2 (end of Sept/beginning of Oct)
  • Publication of Report 3 (October)
  • Round 4 survey distributed (December)
  • Potential Focus Group 3 (Beginning of Jan)
  • Publication of Final Report (January)

Evidence collected throughout this project will be used to engage with DWP officials to raise members’ concerns of procedural issues in the early stages of the new regime. It is important therefore, that as many members participate as possible so that we can take a robust evidence base to these discussions. Please watch for announcements in future editions of the NHC eZine of the next round of the survey and submit your evidence here.

If you would like more information on this research or if you would like to discuss how NHC can help you with your research needs, please contact Barry Turnbull, Policy Services Officer on 0191 566 1030 or at barry.turnbull@northern-consortium.org.uk

Regional Policy Network Round-up

The NHC as a membership body, facilitates three regional Policy Networks across the North East, North West and Yorkshire & Humberside. The North East Policy Network has been up and running for many years, and recently has grown and attracted interest from even more members across the north east.  The Yorkshire & Humber and North West Policy Networks are very new, and have met once to date with a second meeting for each scheduled in the next coming months.

The Policy Networks provide NHC members the opportunity to come together on a quarterly basis, at different member venues in each region to network and discuss policy developments and what they mean for each region, challenges and approaches to mitigate their impact on business, tenants and communities, and good practice.

Across the three networks there were shared concerns which included:

 

Universal Credit (UC) 

  • Huge concerns and challenges around inconsistency of messages from DWP/JCP
  • Organisations need to increase staff time and resources to manage the small number of current cases and time spent on each one. This will not be sustainable going forward as UC is fully implemented.
  • Concerns around the Full Digital Service and how this will be managed by each local JCP office. What about those who can’t access the service for various reasons? What support will be in place for them? Will this delay their claim/payment?
  • Relationship with local DWP Partnership Managers largely positive. However there are issues with the Service Centres – are the messages being communicated to the relevant colleagues there?

 

LHA Cap

  • Members are currently carrying out various impact analyses and modeling different scenarios.
  • Seen as a high business risk across the sector – high rise stock and supported housing poses the greatest risk to businesses.
  • Ways to mitigate the impact of the LHA cap include reviewing allocations and tenancy policies. What do these look like? The introduction of affordability checks and refusing tenants who are unable to afford it will cause problems.
  • The general view is that no-one really understands what the effect of the change will be and that the impact probably won’t be known until it actually happens. Often, tenants will only deal with financial changes when they actually hit, as was the case with the under occupation charge.

 

1% Rent Reduction 

  • Has had a huge impact on businesses. Many organsiations are experiencing staff cuts and restructures.
  • Many members are carrying out reviews of non-core and core services, looking at costs and benefits.
  • Developments are being stalled until a full review of business plans is carried out

 

Benefit Cap

  • Identifying tenants who will be impacted is a difficult process as the sector does not collect information on tenant income.
  • Some members are contacting those that were affected by the £26,000 cap and informing them of the up-to-date changes.
  • Some members are visiting households potentially impacted.

 

This is a summary of some of the discussions that have taken place to date across the networks, for further information on the regional policy networks, please visit http://www.northern-consortium.org.uk/services/policy/working-groups/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UC Implementation Impact Research Update

Universal Credit poses challenges to both social housing landlords and individual claimants. We announced in a previous news post that NHC will undertake a longitudinal research project to collect intelligence on the on-going issues during roll out of Universal Credit. The research includes a survey to member organisations as well as focus group sessions to collect more quality information and case studies with tenants to focus on the effects the changes will have on the welfare system.

Having consulted with our sounding board members, Phase 1 of the research – the self-completion survey – is ready to start. Members are invited to participate in this research, which will be in four quarterly surveys. You can access the survey here.

The findings of the study will be produced in a number of reports and the NHC will run UC events/workshops and seminars as part of our wide events and training service.

If you would like your organisation to participate in this research please contact Barry Turnbull, Policy Services Officer on 0191 566 1030 or at barry.turnbull@northern-consortium.org.uk

UC Implementation Impact Research to be launched

Universal Credit is designed to support those on low incomes or out of work, it replaces six benefits including Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support and will be rolled out across all job centres by the end of the financial year.

Universal Credit offers a huge challenge to social housing landlords and individual claimants alike. Learning from the Direct Payment pilots, housing providers, local authorities and wider partner agencies have reported various issues and challenges from rising rent arrears to a range of impacts on tenants’ and their ability to budget.

To better understand the issues being faced by tenants and landlord organisations in the north, the Northern Housing Consortium will undertake a longitudinal research project to collect intelligence on the on-going issues during roll out of UC. The research would include a survey to member organisations, supplemented by focus group sessions to collect more quality information and case studies with tenants to focus on the effects of the changes in the welfare system.

Members are invited to participate in this research, which would take the form of four quarterly surveys/focus groups/case study interviews. The findings of the study will be produced in a number of reports and NHC will run UC events/workshops and seminars as part of their wide events and training service.

If you would like your organisation to participate in this piece of research please contact Barry Turnbull, Policy Services Officer on (0191) 5661030 or at barry.turnbull@northern-consortium.org.uk