Urgent call to scrap new housing benefit system

Great Yarmouth Town Hall's Victorian clock is back in working order

Great Yarmouth Town Hall's Victorian clock is back in working order - Credit: Archant

Borough council leaders have made an urgent call on the government to immediately suspend part of a new system of paying benefits.

The new Universal Credit (UC) system pays benefits monthly instead of fortnightly and combines the various different elements into one payment.

However, issues with the claims process mean that there can be delays of eight weeks and some landlords have been forced to evict tenants and in the most extreme cases, some people have been made homeless.

The letter has cross-party backing on the council and calls on work and pensions secretary Damian Green to immediately suspend the housing benefit element of UC until the claims process is speeded up.

It states: 'We felt it our duty, as representatives of the borough and its people, to bring [these issues] to your attention.'

The letter also asks why Great Yarmouth was chosen as a pilot area for the full digital roll out of UC.

The letter continues: 'Given the borough has wards with some of the highest deprivation levels in the country, where some people rely on benefits as their main or sole source of income.

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'We are sure that you would agree that any increased risk of homelessness and additional unnecessary pressure on local agencies and charities must be avoided wherever possible.'

The borough council said that some of its own social housing tenants had fallen into rent arrears.

In August, Great Yarmouth Food Bank said it was so busy that it was having to ration what it gave to people, putting the increase down to the roll out of UC in the borough.

The council has asked to hear a response by Wednesday, November 30.

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