A new report from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says that a five-week wait for Universal Credit has been a major factor in pushing claimants into rent arrears. The report shows that people on the new benefit are falling into rent arrears, with over 2 in 5 saying this was due to problems with the benefit.

Citizens Advice has today reiterated its call for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be paused and problems with the benefits fixed with figures showing 1 in 5 people applying for Universal Credit are waiting longer than six weeks for their first payment. In August the equivalent of 12% of people applying for Universal Credit turned to Citizens Advice for support.

Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy said “These figures confirm Citizens Advice research showing that Universal Credit risks pushing people further into serious debt. The DWP’s own evidence shows more than 1 in 5 people applying for Universal Credit are waiting over six weeks for their first payment, and that many people say they are falling behind on their rent as a result.”

“It is clearer than ever that the government must pause the roll-out of Universal Credit and fix the problems with this benefit.”

In a new report, the Citizens Advice analysed over 50,000 cases where it has helped people with their debt problems and found that for those on Universal Credit:

  • 79% have priority debts such a rent or council tax, putting them at greater risk of eviction, visits from bailiffs, being cut off from energy supplies and even prison – compared to (69%) on legacy benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance or Housing Benefit.

  • 2 in 5 (41%) have no money available to pay creditors as their monthly spend on essential living costs is more than their income.

  • Typically people on Universal Credit only have around £3 a month left to pay creditors.

It is urging the government to ensure no one applying for Universal Credit waits longer than 6 weeks for an income, and that anyone who needs it gets a payment within 2 weeks that they do not need to repay.

The DWP report can be viewed here.