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Universal Credit – NIFHA and partners lobby for change

NIFHA, along with partners in the housing and community and voluntary sectors, is asking government for an urgent review of Universal Credit (UC) prior to its roll out this week.

We are concerned that the flaws in the UC system will bring similar hardship to Northern Ireland as that already being experienced by UC claimants in England, Scotland and Wales. A delay in the implementation of UC could allow vital time for technical issues to be addressed and prevent people falling into avoidable debt.

With the roll-out of UC due to commence in Limavady this week, NIFHA, the Council for Homelessness in NI, Shelter NI, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, Advice NI, Housing Rights and Supporting Communities NI have written to: Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; Rt Hon David Gauke MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; and Leo O’Reilly, Permanent Secretary, Dept. for Communities.

UC Letter

The letter outlines the operational flaws with UC, including an online-only system that is not fit for purpose, prohibitive charges on the helpline, NI specific difficulties with the online identity verification system GOV.UK Verify, a minimum six-week delay with the initial payment, and resultant accumulation of rent arrears.

While lobbying for a delay, NIFHA continues to work closely with the Department for Communities to seek a resolution to the issues with UC and minimise adverse impacts for tenants and housing associations.