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Benefit problems raise rent arrears

Benefit changes have led to a rise in the number of tenants in Scotland looking for rent arrears advice. The switch from individual benefits to Universal Credit has triggered a 47 per cent increase in tenants seeking help in paying rents over the past five years.

The figures come from a report by Citizen Advice Scotland.

The report reveals:

  • One in four tenants have fallen behind with their rents during the past five years
  • Tenants in arrears tend to work part-time, have no job or be a single parent aged between 25 and 44 years old living in a deprived area
  • They blame benefit changes, loss of income and unexpected bills for their plight
  • Many borrow from family, friends or on credit cards to pay their debts

Citizen Advice Scotland has identified that problems with Universal Credit payments have led to a higher level of calls for help in the past 18 months. The survey also pinpoints that rent arrears are higher for tenants relying on Universal Credit.

“The rise in rent arrears is one of the most worrying trends we see across our network. While there are several factors driving this, we have no doubt that the flaws in Universal Credit are one of the main ones,” said spokesman Rob Gowan.

“For the past 18 months, we have been calling for a halt and fix to Universal Credit. Some welcome changes have been made but many of the problems remain and this report shows the impact these are having on peoples’ lives.

"We have set out again today the key flaws that need to be addressed, including reducing the waiting period before payment, cutting out processing delays and reducing deductions. These are relatively simple changes that could make a huge difference to millions of people."

Download the report