The full rollout of universal credit, the government's flagship welfare reform, has been delayed yet again - until 2024.
The system was originally supposed to be complete, with all existing and new claimants using it by 2017.
However, the Department for Work and Pensions said the number of people moving onto the new system was "lower than forecast" and almost a million more people than expected remain on the old system, partly because they are concerned about moving to universal credit.
Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince said: “Universal Credit is the biggest change to the welfare system in a generation, bringing together six overlapping benefits into one monthly payment and offering support to some of the most vulnerable people in society.
“It is right that we revisit our forecasts and plan, and re-plan accordingly - ensuring that the process is working well for people on benefits.”
There was growing concern that the continued rollout of the government’s new welfare system would cause people, including private renters, to lose access to vital funds, including their rent.
Cuts to funding, IT problems, late payments and a lack of support in navigating the complex claim process have seen significant hardship for many, pushing some renters to the brink of homelessness.
Recent research by the National Landlords Association (NLA) revealed that there has been a notable drop in the number of private landlords letting to tenants in receipt of local housing allowance or Universal Credit.
Meera Chindooroy, policy and public affairs manager at the NLA, said: “Our research shows that a decreasing proportion of landlords are letting to tenants in receipt of local housing allowance or Universal Credit, and that there is a wide variation across the country.”
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently published updated guidance for landlords with tenants in receipt of Universal Credit.
The information is designed to help understand what they can do to help their tenants prepare for their move to the single Universal Credit benefit payment and make rental payments directly to their landlord themselves.
It also explains what support is available for tenants who may need help moving to the new system.
Information on Alternative Payment Arrangements can be found here.
Guidance to service charges for landlords can be found here.
If a tenant is having difficulty paying their rent, fill in the UC47 form to request payment of rent from a tenant’s Universal Credit.
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