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16 April, 2021 Open access

Housing association tenants on universal credit more likely to be in rent arrears and to have higher average arrears than other housing association tenants

NHF survey finds that 60 per cent of tenants on universal credit had rent arrears, as compared to 36 per cent of other tenants, and that average rent arrears for universal credit claimants were double the average of those paying by other means

New research from the National Housing Federations (NHF) has found that housing association tenants on universal credit are more likely to be in rent arrears and to have higher average arrears than other housing association tenants.

In a new report, Universal Credit in a time of crisis, the NHF sets out findings of research into rent collection for housing associations during the Covid-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on any differences for tenants on universal credit in light of the fact that, since the start of the pandemic, the number of social rented households in England claiming the housing element of universal credit has increased by 39 per cent, representing more than a quarter of all social renters.

Key findings from the NHF’s tracking survey of 23 housing associations in England before and during the pandemic include that -

The NHF also finds that, if this pattern continues, rent arrears could potentially rise by an additional £330 million, and average debt per household could nearly quadruple (from £113 to £420), when all working-age housing benefit claimants move to universal credit.

Highlighting that the relationship between universal credit and rent arrears is complicated, the NHF goes on to recommend that -

The NHF report Universal credit in a time of crisis is available from housing.org.uk