Wandsworth council: Act now to support local people at risk of debt and homelessness
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TO: All Wandsworth local election candidates, community organisations and Wandsworth residents
Just last week, the Wandsworth Foodbank helped two people at risk of eviction because of problems they had experienced with their Universal Credit claim. For some people the change to Universal Credit works smoothly, but for others it leads to an increase in debt, rent arrears and a risk of homelessness. The council can take action now to ensure that no one is evicted because of the roll out of Universal Credit, and ensure that more support is given to each person who is struggling.
Please join four local charities in calling for Wandsworth Council to make sure that no one becomes homeless as a result of needing to claim Universal Credit, which is being rolled out across the Borough this year.
Wandsworth can be a Universal Credit Support Flagship Borough.
The 5-week or more waiting time for first Universal Credit payments, repayments of any emergency Advance Payment, and needing to manage Universal Credit claims online are causing difficulty and financial hardship for many people. In fact, in other London boroughs where the move to Universal Credit started earlier, rent arrears and homelessness has risen as a result of the gap in payments at the start and the way payments are made.
More than 70% of council tenants on Universal Credit are currently in rent arrears in the eight London boroughs where UC has rolled out – accounting for nearly 10,000 people, and leaving them at risk of eviction and homelessness.
This doesn’t have to happen in Wandsworth.
Citizens Advice Wandsworth, Katherine Low Settlement, Southwest London Law Centre and Wandsworth Foodbank believe that together, with the support of the Department for Work and Pensions, Local Job Centres and Wandsworth Council, we can be a flagship Borough leading the way in excellent support for people claiming Universal Credit.
We need to take action now.
Please sign the petition to ask Wandsworth Council to:
1. Provide additional funding for high quality advice and support, and computer access for Universal Credit claimants whether they are claiming from Lambeth Job Centre (45% of Wandsworth claimants) or Wandsworth Jobcentre (55% of Wandsworth claimants).
2. Increase the amount in the Council’s Discretionary Social Fund so that it can help more people in financial emergencies because of the change top Universal Credit. Extend the list of those eligible to be helped by the Fund to include people experiencing benefit problems.
3. Provide prompt, high-quality housing advice and homelessness mitigation for council, social landlord and private tenants.
4. Monitor, and co-ordinate and publish the impact of Universal Credit in the Borough so we know what is happening and if more needs to be done.
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