CIH responds to direct payment pilot findings
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published early findings from the Direct Payment Demonstration Projects, showing numbers of tenants taking part and payment levels.
Six projects across Great Britain are testing different aspects of the direct payment of housing benefit to social sector tenants, ahead of changes that form part of universal credit.
During the first four months, 6,220 social tenants were paid their housing benefit directly. Of a total level of rent charged of £7,692,844 over the period, rent collection rates stood at 92%.
CIH director of policy and practice Gavin Smart said: “We are pleased that some findings from these demonstration projects have finally been released. CIH has been calling for more transparency from the DWP for some time on this issue. It is crucial that landlords are given as much information as possible from the pilots to help them plan ahead, put effective processes in place and mitigate any risks arising from the new system.
“The arrears percentage in this report is too high and would be hard for landlords to support in the longer term, but the pilot projects are still in their early stages and we hope collection levels will increase once the new systems and approaches begin to bed in.
"Direct payment represents a massive shift in custom and practice in the provision of housing services. These findings demonstrate the importance of good communication between landlords and their tenants in managing rent arrears.
“The six areas are trialling different rent collection processes and switchback mechanisms and as the pilots continue we hope more information will be released about how each system has worked. CIH will work with landlords to determine the most effective systems and practices and support them in putting those into place.”
The DWP press release with a link to the full report can be found here.