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Contact: Lynn Cain Email: email@example.com
Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary or Personal Interests and/or Non-Registrable Interests
No declarations of interest were made.
that the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 28 September 2023, be received and approved as a correct record.
Executive Lead Member Update - Universal Credit
Councillor Andy Meakin, Executive Lead Member for Social Housing and Assets commenced his update by reminding Committee Members that the impact of Universal Credit had originally been reviewed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee back in 2019/20.
Universal Credit had initially been rolled out in June 2015 to all new claimants and single households and by August 2017, there were 96 tenants set up and claiming Universal Credit. As of 6 November 2023, there were now estimated to be 2368 Council tenants claiming Universal Credit towards their housing costs which equated to 36.22% of all Council tenants.
The latest data captured in May 2023 showed that within the District as a whole, the rollout of Universal Credit from legacy benefits was now 68% complete. The deadline for completion of the full Universal Credit roll out was the end of 2024, except for those claiming Employment Support Allowance, and tenants could still currently apply for advanced payments if required.
Universal Credit processing was now firmly embedded into the Housing Income Team’s day to day income recovery work, similar to dealing with Housing Benefit cases. To assist officers within the Team, access was available to the Department of Work and Pension’s Universal Credit Landlord Portal where rent charges, requests for direct payments and Universal Credit payments dates, could be sourced and verified.
Of the 2368 Council tenants claiming Universal Credit, 1277 tenants currently had rent arrears. These arrears equated to 72.69% of the Council’s total rent arrears debt or £465,000 in value. The Council was presently receiving direct payments for 490 of the 1277 tenants in receipt of Universal Credit.
In respect of care for Council tenants, support was offered and provided at the pre-tenancy stage and throughout the life of their tenancy. Two Money Management Advisors were on hand to support tenants in rent arrears, undertaking financial assessments, providing budgeting support and assist tenants with maximising their income. This also included supporting tenants with applications for benefits.
The Housing Management Team also employed two Tenancy Sustainment Officers who offered support to tenants at risk of losing their homes. In the last financial year, between April 2022 and March 2023, 955 tenants had been supported with welfare and money management advice and in the same year the Team had collectively secured around £108,000 in backdated benefits, additional benefits and charitable donations. For April to September 2023, 507 tenants had already been provided with support and guidance as required.
To conclude and in respect of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB), the Council’s Assistant Director for Housing Management had contacted the CAB Manager the previous week to ask for feedback regarding the roll out of Universal Credit. Ashfield CAB currently provided a Help to Claim service via phone which was aimed at supporting claimants in the early stages of their Universal Credit claims. This service was funded by the DWP, but this financial support had unfortunately been reduced in 2022.
The CAB Manager did confirm however that between April and September of 2023, they ... view the full minutes text for item PS.12
The Assistant Director for Democracy updated Members with regard to the current status and progress of the 2023/24 Select Work Programme, as attached to the report.
that progress of the 2023/24 Select Work Programme, as presented, be received and noted.