Ever since the Universal Credit concept was announced, abolishing direct payments to landlords, it was clear it was destined to be a disaster. It was an immensely ill-conceived plan created in some Westminster ivy tower. I was always confident that sense would actually prevail in the long run: surely the government couldnâ€™t be so blind as to continue with it once they appreciated the practical ramifications of trusting benefit recipients to pay their landlord directly. For months I have been saying that I thought they would backtrackâ€¦ and the signs are that they are (thanks largely to the sterling work of The Residential Landlordâ€™s Association) in fact now heading for a complete u-turn.
Whilst to date, changes have been made only to the trial scheme Richard Jones, policy director of the RLA, said the change was significant. He added â€œWhilst Government promises of automatic direct payments do not yet extend to the national roll-out of Universal Credit later this year, we are eager to ensure that it will apply when this happens.
â€œAt the same time, the RLA will continue lobbying for a shorter time period in which automatic payments can be triggered, and for more details about the direct payments process.
â€œIt is important for landlords to know that if tenants fall into arrears an immediate stop will be placed on further payment of housing costs to the tenant until direct payments to the landlord have been established.â€