Everyone who applies for Universal Credit has to wait at least five weeks before they receive payment. For many, this is causing hardship and in some cases homelessness. That is why Step by Step has joined The Trussell Trust’s Five Weeks Too Long campaign.
The Trussell Trust is a charity that runs a network of foodbanks across the UK. They have seen a rise in the use of their services as the delay in receiving Universal Credit leaves many unable to afford food and therefore having to resort to foodbanks. The Five Weeks Too Long campaign asks the government to remove the five-week delay that is purposely built into the Universal Credit system.
Step by Step shares the sentiments of this campaign as we have also witnessed first-hand the negative impact of delayed Universal Credit payment on the young people we support. Very few landlords will accept Universal Credit, as they are unwilling to wait five weeks to get paid and don’t like being paid in arrears. For an 18- or 20-year-old with no support network, this makes the uphill struggle of privately renting even more of a challenge. It is left to charities such as Step by Step to help accommodate young people who are being let down by the Universal Credit system.
Our Supported Lodgings service is hit particularly hard by the five-week delay. It means our Hosts have to wait a long time to receive rent payments. While our Hosts tend to be understanding and patient, the delay causes challenges to overcome and anxiety that they won’t get paid.
While young people can apply for a £500 advance on their Universal Credit payment, they often don’t appreciate the impact of having to pay it back and having less money each month as a result.
Under Universal Credit, Supported Lodgings is considered private rental, not supported housing. Therefore, it is not exempt from Universal Credit like our Foyer accommodation is. We would like Supported Lodgings to be exempt from Universal Credit and have tried to make that happen. It would mean faster payment for Hosts and less rent arrears for young people already at a disadvantage in life.
We share the Trussell Trust’s belief that the five-week delay in receiving Universal Credit is compounding the challenges faced by the most vulnerable in society.
To find out more about the Five Weeks Too Long campaign and how you can get involved, go to www.trusselltrust.org/five-weeks-too-long.
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When Luca was referred to our Supported Lodgings service, he was struggling to get his life together and was without a permanent place to live. Luca found himself sofa surfing with no stability and no prospect of addressing his drug misuse and other issues.Read more