Consultation Response: Work and Pension Committee Inquiry on Benefit Delivery

By: Kevin Garvey and Vicky Pearlman  Published: September 2015


The following response was issued to the Work and Pensions Committee as part of their inquiry into benefit delivery.

Summary

Due to the nature of Shelter's work the following evidence and analysis focusses primarily on housing benefit, with additional reference to the housing element within Universal Credit. 

Government statistics show that over the last 5 years the number of people at risk of becoming homeless because of problems with their housing benefit has increased significantly. Problems with a housing benefit claim can encompass the accuracy and/or timing of the payment, both of which can lead to rent arrears, the threat of eviction, and debt, such as that owed to pay-day loan companies or family/friends.

We've drawn on case studies and statistics from our services across the country to highlight examples of the key problems with housing benefit delivery, and how this carries the risk of homelessness. Specifically, this evidence highlights that housing benefit delays and inaccuracies can result in:

  • A tenant's inability to pay the rent, which can lead to eviction, homelessness or the accumulation of debt.
  • Households being unable to start a new tenancy, which is especially problematic for households facing homelessness, fleeing from domestic violence or leaving care.  
  • Landlords not letting to tenants in receipt of housing benefit in the first place, which reduces the pool of available housing options for low income families.

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