After the sad case of a landlord in Gosport who lost a great deal of money, we have asked local MP's to help us get the Universal Credit process improved.
Specifically, we have asked for the following changes:
1. A review of the guidance to DWP Universal Credit (UC) staff to ensure they are permitting 'Managed Payments To Landlords' (MPTL) where it appears to be in the tenants interests if not their desire. This may mean giving a housing officer, landlord or agent the benefit of the doubt but surely this is better than wasting what must be vast amounts of tax payer money.
2. To ensure that when a "safeguarded" person (ie Housing Benefit paid direct to landlord by Local Authority) moves to UC the default should be for direct payment to landlord (MPTL) not for it to go to tenants who have previously proved they cannot or choose not to use it as intended.
3. A review of the payment policy 'guidelines' regarding the housing element of Universal Credit as in addition to making people unnecessarily homeless the process is discouraging landlords from offering accommodation to the poor and vulnerable.
4. A change in the way UC rent payments information is communicated to landlords and their agents and consider if the granting of 'explicit consent' by the tenant to them, could be a condition of receiving payments towards rent in certain circumstances.
We understand that Covid 19 has presented the DWP with huge administration problems but these proposals will help reduce the workload.
While there is a ban on evictions it is hard to gather recent evidence but we fear a flood of problems when landlords are again able to address the issues they face unless action is taken to ensure tax payer funded benefits are used as intended.
A fuller explanation of the requested changes along with case studies and examples can be seen here: https://pdpla.com/useful-documents-list/322-why-is-universal-credit-making-people-homeless