Universal Credit: Islington Council offers one-off payments to help vulnerable claimants

Cllr Andy Hull. Picture: Islington Council

Cllr Andy Hull. Picture: Islington Council - Credit: Archant

The town hall is supporting vulnerable council tenants claiming Universal Credit by offering them a one-off payment to cover a week’s rent.

The government’s flagship welfare police, combining six working age benefits into one online-only payment, started being rolled-out in full across the borough in June – and some 6,000 people in Islington have since switched to the system.

So far Islington has supported 2,147 council households, and 320 neighbours living in housing association properties, by offering payment equivalent to a week’s rent, which averages at £134.53.

Islington’s finance chief Cllr Andy Hull said: “This council has no confidence in Universal Credit, which is badly discredited and should be scrapped. It is failing the very people it was supposed to support. With 40 per cent of claimants needing to access additional council tax support and many not able to pay their childcare fees, it is clear something has gone terribly wrong. Some vulnerable groups, such as people with learning difficulties, are particularly badly affected.”

New claimants can wait up to five weeks for their first payments, which critics say pushes people into rental arrears. People can get up-front cash from the department for work and pensions but this is then deducted from their first payment.

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Claimants living in Islington council homes are, on average, in £1,226 debt. They owe the council nearly £2million.

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