Hillingdon Labour voices concerns about Universal Credit

Speaking on behalf of the Hillingdon Labour Group, Cllr Janet Gardner said:

“We in the Labour Group are very worried about how Universal Credit (UC) will impact on our more vulnerable residents.

“We already have many residents using foodbanks in the borough and we feel that the demand on this service will increase when UC is rolled out for everyone on benefits in the autumn. 

“What concerns us is that the residents who are living from hand to mouth because of their lack of finances may have to choose between paying their rent or buying shoes for their children due to Universal Credit including both their rent and council tax. What do they do? 

“Currently, residents in receipt of Housing Benefit can make arrangements with the Council to have their rent paid direct to their landlord, ensuring they do not fall into arrears and get evicted. Now it would appear that in order to get the housing benefit component of Universal Credit paid direct to their landlord, the resident will have to deal with Job Centre Plus and to date we have no idea if there are provisions in place for this service.

“There are also real concerns about delays for receiving the first payments, potentially turning vulnerable and desperate people to short term options such as loan sharks, which does not help them in the long run.

“As a member of the Social Care, Housing, and Public Health Policy Overview Committee on Hillingdon Council, I will be asking for a witness from Job Centre Plus to attend the review and answer questions that we as Councillors need to know, in order to ensure our residents are not further disadvantaged by what we regard as a badly thought-out policy.”

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