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ARCH & NFA meet NAO to discuss welfare reform survey 17/08/2017 Labelled as Tenants

The results of the latest ARCH/NFA Welfare Reform survey were published on 25 July 2017 in our report 'Pause for thought'.


Following publication of our report which highlighted significant concerns about the impact of the Government's welfare reforms on tenants and local authority landlords we met with the National Audit Office (NAO) on 16 August, at their invitation, to discuss our findings in more detail.


The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) is due to increase the pace of roll-out of Universal Credit from October 2017, so that full service will be available to new claimants in all jobcentres by September 2018. The Department then plans to transfer existing claimants to Universal Credit by March 2022.


Universal Credit is a single benefit for working age people both in and out of work, which replaces six existing means-tested benefits and tax credits. It is available to all eligible claimants through the Universal Credit full service.


In our report on the findings of our latest welfare reform survey we voiced strong concerns at the Government's plans to accelerate the roll out of Universal Credit and called on Government to pause the roll out of Universal Credit until some of the issues identified in our report are resolved.


The NAO have launched a study to examine whether the DWP is on course to deliver Universal Credit in accordance with its plans. The Study will also assess whether there are early signs that Universal Credit is delivering its objectives, and what impact it is having both on claimants and on local authorities, housing associations, landlords and other stakeholders. Details of the NAO study are available on the NAO website.


This study follows two previous NAO reports: Universal Credit: early progress (September 2013) and Universal Credit: progress update (November 2014).


If ARCH members would like to provide evidence for the NAO study they can do so by email to the study team on putting the study title in the subject line.


ARCH has also been contacted by Parliamentary Officials following our submission earlier this year to the Work and Pensions Committee's inquiry on Universal Credit.


Due to the dissolution of Parliament in May 2017, the Committee did not publish a report on this inquiry. It did, however, write to the previous Secretary of State for Work and Pensions highlighting substantial and widely-shared concerns raised in written and oral evidence about Universal Credit's operation and the impact of the accelerated rollout from October. We understand that when the new Committee is fully appointed and convened in September/October, they may well want to revisit UC.


It will be for the new Committee decide whether to conduct further work on UC, the nature of any such work and whether to publish submissions as evidence, however ARCH & the NFA have submitted a copy of our latest report to Parliamentary officials.


ARCH Chief Executive John Bibby comments:


"The fact that we are being approached by the National Audit Office and Parliamentary officials supporting the Work & Pensions Committee is evidence of ARCH' growing influence on the national policy agenda and a testament to the quality of the work we have done with the support of our members in producing Pause for Thought - the latest in our series of reports on the impact of welfare reform on tenants and local authority landlords."

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