Impact of recent benefit changes on vulnerable people - House of Lords, 27 June 2019

People can be vulnerable in a wide range of different ways. Councils are often at the forefront of understanding, mitigating and managing this complexity in their local communities.


Key messages

  • People can be vulnerable in a wide range of different ways, and in a number of different contexts, such as through having a disability or long term health condition, as well as lone parents or people who experience a breakdown in family circumstances. Councils are often at the forefront of understanding, mitigating and managing this complexity in their local communities.
  • The growing affordability gap of housing in many parts of the country is presenting councils with significant costs and challenges in meeting the needs of homeless and struggling households. The Government must restore the private sector Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate to ensure that they enable people to access at least the 30th percentile of market rents.
  • Universal Credit (UC) has made significant changes to the way in which many people receive their benefits.  It fails to see councils, who provide housing, social care and safety net support to claimants, as a key partner in an effective and supportive benefits system.
  • Local Government has an important role, working with local partners, to provide claimants with both transitional and ongoing support. The reinstatement of separate funding for local welfare schemes would enable councils and partners to intervene more effectively to prevent households who simply do not have enough money to meet their basic living expenses from falling into recurring financial difficulties.
  • There must be greater engagement from the Universal Credit programme with DWP’s own work on Children, Families and Disadvantage, as well as work across other departments such as homelessness prevention, public health and early intervention. This will help deliver a more coordinated approach for individuals who have a range of different needs.
  • Outcomes should be measured not just in terms of the transition to Universal Credit, but also in household outcomes including debt, rent arrears, tenancy stability, homelessness, and, if appropriate, employment and progression.