Implementation of Welfare Reform by Local Authorities

Implementation of Welfare Reform by Local Authorities

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The significance, timetable and volume of the proposed welfare reforms should not be underestimated. The changes will see Housing Benefit, currently administered by local authorities, transferring into Universal Credit (UC), to be administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Moving in the other direction, Council Tax Benefit and parts of the Social Fund will be replaced with schemes designed and administered by local authorities. This report focuses on implementation and the part that local authorities are playing. It identifies four key areas that will be crucial to the successful implementation of the changes. First, these reforms require close interdepartmental working, particularly between the Department for Communities and Local Government and DWP. Second, the Government needs to work with the Local Government Association to assess the cumulative impact of the entire programme on local authorities' resources. Third, for the simplification of benefits, the Government is switching the payment of housing support from the landlord directly to the claimant. Housing associations may therefore face increased rent arrears and collection costs, though the Government has agreed that this may be offset by excluding qvulnerableq tenants and an automatic switchback mechanism (paying rent to the landlord when a tenant's arrears hit a threshold level). In addition, it is vital that DWP makes good on its assurances that the financial viability of housing associations will not be damaged by the welfare reforms. Fourth, there are concerns about the readiness of ICT systems, specifically that the systems for fraud detection within UC were still at early development even though implementation is now advancedPAYMENT EXCEPTIONS 3.18 Payment exceptions which will allow for direct payment of the housing element to landlords, split payments within a household or more frequent than monthly payments of Universal Credit will be available foranbsp;...

Title:Implementation of Welfare Reform by Local Authorities
Author:Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Communities and Local Government Committee
Publisher:The Stationery Office - 2013-04-03


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