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Benefit changes 'will be straightforward': Freud

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Close working between local authority housing benefit departments and landlords has been “crucial” in areas piloting the direct payment of benefits to social housing tenants, according to an initial assessment.

Initial research of the six direct payment demonstration projects by Department for Work & Pensions shows 54% of tenants were confident to receive their housing benefit directly into their bank account.

However, almost a quarter of the residents surveyed about the introduction of direct payments said they thought they would need some support.

There has been some concern that tenants might fall into rent arrears as the introduction of Universal Credit sees them receive a single benefit payment, including housing benefits which they will have to then pass on to the landlord.

Welfare minister Lord Freud said: “These findings show most people on low incomes manage their money well and for most tenants the switch to direct payments under Universal Credit will be straightforward.”

He added: “This work will ensure that the right level of support is in place for those tenants who need it.”

DWP has not published the whole survey, which is to be treated as baseline evidence for the piloting work, but it is available to councils, social landlords and other members of DWP’s online ‘Learning Network’. A full report is due to be published before Christmas, the department said.

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