Welfare Reform and Rent Arrears in 2018: Managing Risks, Maintaining Collection Rates and Mitigating Effects

This briefing will examine how organisations can prepare for ongoing welfare reform and how to minimise the impact on business and tenants.

Universal Credit roll-out

  • Average rent arrears debt of a Universal Credit claimant was £618 compared to average non-UC arrears of £131.​ (Source: Welfare Reform Impact report 2017, HouseMark)
  • Universal Credit rent arrears £6.7m, representing 10% of total unpaid council rent despite roll-out to only 2.6% of tenants nationally. (Source: NFA/ ARCH Survey 2017)
As Universal Credit (UC) is rolled out across the country, and other reforms like the benefit cap and spare room subsidy continue to have an impact, it is vital that landlords prepare for a more challenging collection environment they may face in the coming months.
 
Attend this Holyrood briefing for an up-to-date brief on welfare reform and to examine how your organisation can manage the risks associated with rent arrears, maintain collection rates and mitigate the effects. 

Key issues to be addressed

  • Latest policy developments in welfare reform
  • Impact of the benefit cap and spare room subsidy
  • Update on the implementation of Universal Credit (UC) tenant and timetable for future changes
  • Addressing concerns about how long UC claimants have to wait before receiving benefit payments
  • Alternative Payment Arrangements for UC & ‘Trusted Partner Status’
  • Anticipated future trends in arrears
  • Planning & preparing for a more challenging collection environment
  • Proactively identifying vulnerable households and providing support
  • Good practice in mitigating the effects of welfare reform
  • Learning from peer experience of reform and UC roll-out so far

Who will benefit from attending?

Attendees will be drawn from (but not limited to): social landlords & housing associations; local authorities; debt advisers; legal advisers; representative groups; and charities.
 

Agenda*

09:15 Registration and Refreshments
 
10:00 Welcome and Introduction by the Chair 
Professor Alan Alexander OBE, General Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and Emeritus Professor of Public Sector Management, Strathclyde Business School
 
10:00 Session 1: Policy Developments, Welfare Reform & Future Trends
  • Latest policy developments in welfare reform
  • Impact of the benefit cap and spare room subsidy
  • Update on the implementation of Universal Credit and timetable for future changes
  • Addressing concerns about how long UC claimants have to wait before receiving benefit payments and improving payment timeliness
  • Steps DWP are taking to improve UC for landlords, including the roll out of the landlord portal
  • Responding to the challenges posed by direct payment
  • Alternative Payment Arrangements for UC & ‘Trusted Partner Status’
  • Anticipated future trends in arrears

Speaker Confirmed, Social Security Directorate, Scottish Government

Speaker Confirmed, Housing and Social Justice Directorate​, Scottish Government

Rob Gowans, Policy Officer, Citizens Advice Scotland

11:05 Questions and Discussion
 
11:25 Refreshments and Networking
 
11:45 Session 2: Managing Risks & Maintaining Collection Rates
  • Planning & preparing for a more challenging collection environment
  • Proactively identifying vulnerable households and providing support
  • Working in partnership to prevent arrears
  • Steps to maintain collection rates
  • Writing off debts: identifying when arrears are unlikely to be recovered
  • Recovering overpaid housing benefit

Jeremy Hewer, Policy Advisor - Social Housing, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations

Jim Bauld, Partner, TC Young Solicitors

12:25 Questions and Discussion
 
12:45 Lunch and Networking
 
13:30 Session 3: Mitigating the Effects of Welfare Reform
  • A series of inputs will share learning into good practice examples where the impact of changes to and organisation are minimised and tenants’ incomes are maximised, debt reduced and tenancies sustained

13:30 Early roll-out of Universal Credit - Insights into Inverclyde's experience

Tracy Bunton, Principal Benefits and Customer Services Officer, Finance Services, Inverclyde Council
Heather McLaughlin, Tenancy Sustainment and Support Manager, River Clyde Homes 

13:50 Insights into the Highland experience - Early roll-out of Universal Credit

​Gail Ward, Housing Policy Officer | Community Services, Highland Council 

​14:10 Perspective from beyond Scotland - Learning from Newcastle

Emma Ogle, Welfare Reform Partnership Officer, and Stephen Janes, Income Recovery Manager​, Your Homes Newcastle

14:30 Questions and Discussion
 
14:55 Summary by the Chair
 
15:00 Close of Event
 
*Agenda subject to change
 

Venue

NASUWT,35 Young Street North Lane, Edinburgh EH2 4JD | Map

Costs

Delegate rates (excluding VAT):
  • Discounted rate: 1 place £145 + VAT (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £245 + VAT | 2+ places £195 + VAT (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: 1 place £295 + VAT | 2+ places £245 + VAT (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)
For more information please email enquiries@holyrood.com or phone 0131 285 1635 
Dates
28 March 2018

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