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Dorset MP's concerns over new credit for poor
1:04pm Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
SOUTH Dorset MP Richard Drax has raised concerns about a change in the benefit system.
In a Commons debate on universal credit, Mr Drax warned of ‘unintended consequences.’
Universal credit is a new single payment for people looking for work or on low incomes. It aims to simplify the benefits system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits.
Mr Drax said: “Our welfare bill is too big and we have to tackle this problem.
“I think all members will agree that this bill cannot continue to grow. It is simply unsustainable. My view is that for too long the poor and vulnerable have been trapped in a welfare mire. How often have we heard our constituents say, ‘There is no point working a bit longer because if I do that I will lose my benefits’?”
But he highlighted the danger of relying on one giant computer system for payments to over 8 million people and said there was 'no room for delay' in paying claimants.
After discussions with Kevin Hodder, Chief Executive of the East Dorset Housing Trust, Mr Drax said that there were particular concerns about housing benefit being included in one lump sum payment.
He said: “Mr Hodder’s view, with which I agree, is that there is a ‘huge risk’ of non-payment to landlords because of willful non-payment or the inability of the tenant to manage funds over a month. The impact will be a rise in arrears and collection costs. They will need more staff, the cash flow will be reduced and there will be less investment in social housing.
“Private landlords are already saying that they will not take on tenants who get their money first, for obvious reasons, so that could also shut the door on the private rented sector. Further down the line, arrears could lead to more evictions, more clogged-up courts and more families being thrown on the mercy of local authorities.”
He added: “The devil is in the detail and while I support the idea of universal credit wholeheartedly, I do think that there are potential problems with the way it is implemented."