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Universal Credit in the Spotlight

The impact of Universal Credit on families in South Tyneside will be highlighted to a scrutiny committee next week.

Members of the People Select Committee will receive an update on Universal Credit following the full roll out of the benefit last May.

Universal Credit replaces a range of benefits and tax credits and is paid as one payment per household. Claimants have full control over their own finances and are expected to pay their own rent.

A report to Members highlights that the total arrears owed from council tenants claiming Universal Credit stands at £834,490, representing a 28 per cent increase in rent arrears for this cohort since moving over to Universal Credit. There are 286 council tenants currently claiming Universal Credit who owe more than £1,000 in rent arrears.

The Council and its partners offer a range of support for residents moving on to Universal Credit, in particular for those needing digital assistance to make their claim online and personal budgeting support.

Chair of the Committee, Councillor John McCabe, said: "We have provided ongoing support to help people through this major change in the benefits system.

"However, we are aware that a large number of advance payments have been made which will need to be repaid and could plunge some of our most vulnerable families into further hardship. This is something we will need to monitor."

Councillors will also receive a report outlining the complaints and compliments the Council received in relation to the social care of adults, children and families 2017 - 2018.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday 19 February at 10am in South Shields Town Hall. All are welcome.


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