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Financial support offered to council tenants in Tower Hamlets affected by delayed Universal Credit payments

PUBLISHED: 19:00 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:01 07 December 2017

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

Mike Brooke

Council tenants who have been plunged into rent arrears through delays in their Universal Credit payments will be offered financial support from the town hall.

Last week Tower Hamlets Council approved plans for £1million to be put aside to help the most cash-strapped residents affected by the controversial reform.

Universal Credit (UC), which replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment, has left some claimants waiting up to 12 week for their cash.

According to the town hall, 300 council tenants have accrued £371,796 in rent arrears since UC was rolled out in the borough in 2013 on an incremental basis.

John Biggs, mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “I believe in supporting our most vulnerable residents and that’s why I have set aside £5 million for a Tackling Poverty Fund, including £1 million to provide assistance to those affected by Universal Credit”.

There have been calls for the Department of Working Pensions (DWP) to suspended rolling out UC across the country until claimants could be paid faster.

However the DWP maintained the new system was running smoothly and it would allow ‘people to improve their lives’ by ‘providing additional tailored support to move into work and stop claiming benefits altogether’.

Tower Hamlets Council is also undertaking further work with the Child Poverty Action Group and the Chartered Institute of Housing to collect information on its impacts which will be presented to the DWP.

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