Barrow Borough Council is worried tenants on benefits might not pay rent
Last updated at 15:09, Monday, 18 June 2012
COUNCIL tenants who receive benefits will have to pay rent directly to the town hall as part of a welfare overhaul – leading to fears that bills may be left unpaid.
Barrow Borough Council has devised an action plan as it will no longer receive around £7m in rent which is paid directly by the government.
From April 2013, a host of changes are set to be made to the benefits system by the government.
Housing benefits, which are paid directly to the council at present, will be scrapped and will be included in a new universal credit scheme, which is paid to the individual.
The council said it needs the plan to prepare tenants for the new system and address concerns the council’s cash flow could be hit.
Jane Coles, business support manager, presented the plan to a meeting of the council’s housing management forum on Thursday.
She said: “The main part of this report is to inform you where we think we need to inform people and the areas of concern that we have in collecting the rent.”
The plan is based on supporting and educating residents, identifying tenants who may have problems with the new system and encouraging people to set up payment plans for their rent.
Bill McEwan, from the Ormsgill Residents’ and Tenants’ Association, said the government-imposed changes could mean people not paying their rent.
He said: “My concern is the people may have to pay their rent from their own pockets up front, and we’ve seen problems like this with private properties.
“This is going to cause really big problems. For example, when we get to Christmas time and someone has the choice of buying their kid a Christmas present or pay their rent, then there’s only going to be one winner.”
But housing manager Colin Garnett said the majority of tenants were responsible and if made aware of the changes would continue to pay their rent.
He said: “I would like to think that if we do inform people of the changes effectively then many, many people will pay their rent as they are required to do.”
Councillor Ken Williams said losing direct payment of rent was “a frightening experience” but private landlords had adapted to similar changes.
The committee noted the report and agreed to implement the plan.
First published at 13:24, Monday, 18 June 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
How about the tenant who refuses to move out of my sole property at the end of the tenancy agreement, let out while working abroad as I was unable to get a job in the UK. Tenant is not paying rent and the total cost to me at present is over Â£4,000. Meanwhile the 'poor' tenant has moved her boyfriend in, he drives an expensive car and there is nothing I can do about it until a judgment is made. Don't talk to me about private landlords being the scourge of working class communities. How about the the leeching, morally bankrupt tenants? You don't even begin to understand. I work my socks off away from home to lose it all on paying to get rid of a piece of scum.
I agree with Bill Irving and have already written to the Government about this latest farce. Most tenants do not want the housing benefit/allowance or Local Housing Allowance paid to them.In case this Government cannot remember what it promised before the last election, Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps said, "the Conservative Party would reform the local housing allowance system if it came into power".He said "the current system, where local housing allowance is paid to tenants and they use it to pay their rent, had led landlords to refuse to rent to people on benefits". Previously councils paid housing benefit direct to claimantsâ landlords.Mr Shapps said: âThe current situation is bad for everyone, and I can see no reason why people on local housing allowance shouldnât enjoy the freedom to have their housing benefit paid direct to their landlord.âThe then, Shadow Work and Pensions Minister, Andrew Selous added:"We believe that tenants should have the choice of where their rent money is paid to, especially if it makes the difference between a property being available to them or not. The government are blind to the problems that low income tenants are facing and should restore this choice to tenants now".Benefit can be paid to the landlord under certain circumstances but the tenant and landlord have to jump through an unnecessary set of hoops to achieve this.Mr Shapps said, "I can "see" no reason why people on local housing allowance shouldnât enjoy the freedom to have their housing benefit paid direct to their landlordâ..........perhaps he should have gone to Specsavers!?As has been asked of me; were these promises just for the election or were they just lies?
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