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Universal Credit: Effects on frontline services and clients

Universal Credit: Effects on frontline services and clients

Universal Credit: Effects on frontline services and clients

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Sinead Kelleher, the Frontline Network Support Worker, for ARCH blogs about an event held in Wrexham highlighting the effects of the rollout of Universal Credit on frontline services and clients.

An event was held in Wrexham at the end of Janaury 2018 to highlight the effects of the rollout of Universal Credit on frontline services and clients. On the day, participants came from around 40 different agencies, all frontline services.  

This was also an opportunity for agencies to network and collaborate on ways to tackle the issues they faced.

Five guest speakers spoke about how Universal Credit had affected their clients:

Sian Byrne, Welsh Women’s Aid Wrexham

Sian spoke about how single payments with Universal Credit generally means the payments go to the head of the household, usually the man. Where there is domestic abuse, this makes it very difficult for the client suffering the abuse to access any money. Although split payments can be applied for, it would be hard to explain to an abusive partner why a split payment had been applied for, potentially endangering the client further.

Vicky Ledsham, WCBC Housing

Vicky spoke about the problems the rollout of Universal Credit had caused the Council regarding housing. She explained the struggles the Council is having in providing accommodation for families – people were struggling to keep up with the rent on their properties, leading to eviction notices. Every effort was taken to avoid eviction, but it was the last resort when payments were not being made.

John Atkinson, N C Rentals

John is a local landlord who works closely alongside Wrexham DIP to house clients. John has been a landlord for many years and has never had to evict any of his tenants. Unfortunately, since the rollout of Universal Credit, John is in the process of evicting multiple tenants. Clients have been falling into debt, which then results in rent arrears. John cares about his tenants, but he has to he has to run a business and pay the mortgages on his houses, something he can only do if he is paid rent. John is therefore in a difficult position, as he has to risk taking on tenants who may not be able to pay him or he has to turn them away.

Sally Ellinson, Wrexham Foodbank

Sally spoke about how the number of people using the foodbank had increased over the last few months. Although there is usually a rise in the number of people using the foodbank around Christmas time, there was a further rise this year. She highlighted how the foodbank saw an influx of food and monetary donations around the festive period, but donations went down as the year went on.

Fiona Roberts, Shelter

Fiona discussed the increase in court evictions. This was a result of people not being able to pay their rent and falling into debt. There was a vicious circle as people were torn between paying their rent/paying off debts and buying real basics like food.

Many agencies had stalls at the event, including WCBC Tenancy Support, Shelter, The Wallich, Trussel Trust Foodbank, Caniad, Welsh Women’s Aid, Hafan Cymru, Hafal, Cais and Clwyd Alyn. The aim of the stalls was to distribute information about the services each agency offered and to highlight all the different projects one agency may have.

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