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Islington assesses impact of coronavirus lockdown: Residents in rent arrears, hike in Universal Credit claims and funding shortfall

PUBLISHED: 13:30 07 July 2020

Islington Council were updated on the coronavirus figures. Picture: Dannt Lawson/ PA

Islington Council were updated on the coronavirus figures. Picture: Dannt Lawson/ PA

PA Wire/PA Images

The number of Islington residents claiming Universal Credit skyrocketed by 110 per cent in two months of coronavirus lockdown.

A Policy and Performance Scrutiny Committee at Islington Council on July 2 heard between March 11 and June 12, residents applying for Universal Credit jumped from 13,356 to 28,112.

This is in line with national figures, with 3.1 million people in 2.5 million households making a claim for Universal Credit since mid-February.

Additionally, 68pc of Islington council tenants on Universal Credit were in arrears on May 31, alongside 39pc of those not claiming governmental help.

The average amount owed in unpaid rent amounted to £1,356 for those on the benefit system.

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Islington Council has also given out £139,000 worth of crisis awards from March 23 to June 16.

In previous years, the crisis awards have averaged between £12,000 and £14,000 for the whole year.

With £24 million additional costs, £50 million income losses and a £15.6 million governmental grant, the council is facing an estimated £58 million shortfall over the three-year planning cycle up to 2024.

READ MORE: Only two people in Islington have used test and trace system, council leader says

The committee’s report said: “The council has responded swiftly and effectively to the scale and speed of the crisis and this is partly due to the strong relationships with partners across the borough and local communities, and the flexibility and hard work of our staff, which has enabled us to develop a responsive and agile approach to meet the needs of residents.”

In the meeting, Cllr Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East), asked: “We are about 48 hours away from further unlocking of the lockdown and on the ability to be ahead of the curve in terms of spotting any kind of possibility of a second wave, I have been watching the Islington figures like a hawk and it has been really impressive the way Islington has managed to keep the numbers of cases very low.”

Linzi Roberts-Egan, Islington’s chief executive, said that statistical differences between Islington, other London boroughs and locally locked-down Leicester has given her a “degree of confidence, but not over confidence, because we want to be as vigilant as we’ve ever been”.


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