Universal Credit: housing boss slams direct payments as 'daft'

A housing association's chief executive has labelled the Government's plans for direct payments to tenants under Universal Credit as "daft".

Matt Cooney, CEO of asra Housing Group, has written to MPs to urge them to pressure the Government into rethinking its plans, claiming that direct payments will be damaging to both social landlords and tenants.

Mr Conney's letter comes on the back of payment pilot schemes from several different UK locations. The research from the National Housing Federation showed rent arrears increased on average by 51 percent.

Mr Cooney said: “There is a lot of discussion in the media about the forthcoming bedroom tax which will see asra’s customers lose about £1.2m collectively in housing benefit.

“However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as direct payments to tenants are likely to lead to a massive increase in rent arrears and a huge loss of income for housing associations like Asra Housing Group.

“Direct payment of benefits is an ideologically driven change to benefits and it will be extremely damaging to housing associations.

“I have written to local MPs about the matter, and would like to ask them to put pressure on the Government to re-think this part of their Universal Credit plans.

“I would also like to call on other housing providers and industry bodies to get behind this message, as Welfare Reforms are already legislation and there is very little that can be done to change this.

“Direct payments, as part of Universal Credit, are still being discussed, however, so the time is ripe for us as an industry to speak out about these daft proposals.”