North Lanarkshire Council adds £500,000 to Universal Credit Assistance Fund

North Lanarkshire Council has added a further £500,000 to its Universal Credit Assistance Fund and is providing more help to tenants falling into rent arrears due to built-in waiting times for Universal Credit payments.

The fund, which is in place for council tenants struggling with the impact of making a Universal Credit claim or migrating to the benefit, has already helped over 2,300 tenants with financial support of more than £730,000. The council said the original £1 million allocation has reduced as it is supporting tenants and families in greatest need.

The housing and regeneration committee agreed to add the additional funding to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic which has seen a sharp rise in the number of people finding themselves out of work and claiming Universal Credit.

Councillor Heather Brannan-McVey, convener of the housing and regeneration committee, said: “We’re encouraging tenants who have fallen behind with their rent payments not to ignore their financial plight and to get in touch and find out how we can help.

“We understand that with unemployment figures rising some people have seen a change to their financial circumstances and are facing challenges presented by waiting times for Universal Credit payments.

“Our fund has already provided vital assistance to tenants and their families facing difficulties and on low incomes. We understand the real worry and stress that financial hardship causes - that’s one of the reasons we’ve put this fund in place and supplemented it.”

Tenants eligible to receive assistance must be new Universal Credit Claimants; their arrears are caused by the five-week waiting period for receipt of their first Universal Credit payment; be able to repay the fund via an affordable arrangement and have no existing former arrears for tenant/joint tenant.

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