The RLA would like the English government to offer the same options as those offered by the Scottish government to reduce the risk of increased debt and homelessness posed by the move to Universal Credit. See this short explanation from Landlord Today:
‘The so-called “Scottish Flexibilities” mean new online claimants can choose to have Universal Credit paid fortnightly rather than monthly, as is standard. They can also have the housing elements of the benefit paid directly to their landlord, after evidence from Universal Credit pilots revealed that many people fall into arrears when housing costs are paid to them directly, as the money is spent on other things.’
As far as I can see this costs government nothing and could prevent serious problems developing for poor families.
This is, of course, only a partial solution to the problems posed by Universal Credit which Scottish Charities have urged the UK government to halt. See this:
‘In principle, it is a good idea which should make life easier for both the claimant and the delivery agencies alike. However, having seen how UC has worked so far, it is clear that it is leaving thousands of people struggling to make ends meet. The flaws include a six-week waiting period between a person’s claim and their initial payment. Another issue is that UC is an entirely online system, yet our evidence is that many applicants don’t have access to computers or the skills to use them. Together, we believe the Government must halt the rollout of the benefit so that these and other flaws can be fixed before they harm any more people. This will require serious changes, not just minor adjustments.’
Although Scotland will take control of 11 additional benefits after the Scotland Act 2016, Universal Credit remains reserved to Westminster so the ‘Scottish Flexibilities’ are all they can do to help just as they did before, what they could do, to compensate for the effects of the Bedroom Tax.