The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) is the latest organisation to call on the government to immediately pause its rollout of Universal Credit for the good of people in most need of support.
There is growing concern that the continued rollout of the government’s new welfare system will cause people, including private renters, to lose access to vital funds, including their rent.
Hundreds of thousands of people are claiming the new benefit, but cuts to funding, IT problems, late payments and a lack of support in navigating the complex claim process has seen significant hardship for many, pushing some renters to the brink of homelessness.
Earlier this year, the Liberal Democrat Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesperson, Stephen Lloyd, warned that Universal credit could cause up to 1.3 million evictions from privately rented homes.
Lloyd said delays in payments meant more tenants were in rent arrears, and this could lead to a significant increase in benefit claimants in the private rented sector being evicted, and potentially made homeless.
The MP, like many housing experts, would like to see universal credit's rent element paid directly to landlords.
Almost three-quarters - 73% - of landlords still lack confidence in renting to tenants on Universal Credit due to uncertainty that they will be able to recover rent arrears, according to the Residential Landlords Association.
Imogen Farhan, IPSE’s Policy and External Affairs Officer, commented: “The widespread condemnation of Universal Credit is clear and damning evidence of how damaging the policy has been.
“IPSE urges the government to urgently halt the reform’s rollout and address its flaws before its damage can be manifested further.
“Nowhere is Universal Credit’s damaging impact felt more clearly than on the self-employed. The self-employed lose out due to monthly reporting because it does not take into account of the fact the income of the self-employed varies hugely from month to month.”
Farhan added: “The reforms damage entrepreneurship and cost self-employed people thousands of pounds a year.
“The government cannot bury its head in the sand about Universal Credit’s failures any longer. It must urgently rectify the problems rather than pretending they do not exist.”