Advice experts in Northampton see rise in people hit by new benefits system

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A large number of Northampton social housing tenants could face eviction later this year when a new system of benefits unwinds.

The universal credit system means many people who receive in or out of work benefits now get a lump sum each month to mirror a wage and encourage budgeting.

But advice experts at Community Law Service in Northampton are finding that many are unused to budgeting in this way and often spend their rent money on other things.

CLS had no referrals for this problem last year, but are now seeing two a week and expect that number to increase as unpaid rent builds up.

Julie Silver, chief executive, said: “We think it will lead to more evictions and more repossessions because the housing associations will not be getting their money.

“What these people do then is going to be a real problem come the autumn.”

Universal credit - which combines all benefits in one payment - came to Northampton in February, but only for single people.

People with more complex circumstances, such as families and people with disabilities, will be subject to the new system - and its potential repercussions - further down the line.

But an added element of the problem is that housing associations, fearing non-payment of rent, are asking for more money up front, squeezing the finances of tenants.