Dwp slammed for withholding direct payment data _ news _ inside housing

The Department for Work and Pensions has been criticised after revealing it will not tell landlords how well its universal credit pilots are working until next year.

Six pilot projects are running across the country to test the direct payment of benefit to tenants instead of to landlords. Documents needed for housing benefit The projects, which run until next summer, feature housing associations and councils and test direct payment to around 12,000 tenants.

The DWP had indicated it would publish initial data this week.

When will housing benefit be paid But instead of publishing information showing the progress of the projects, it released results from a baseline survey of 1,639 tenants, which was carried out before the projects started in June.

Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said the DWP should publish early findings to help landlords judge what the impact is likely to be on their businesses. Am i entitled to housing benefit He said: ‘People are really desperate to learn what to do.’

Keith Exford, chief executive of Affinity Sutton, said: ‘There would be little point in having these projects if we are not provided with the results of how these are working in practice.’

Mr Exford said early evidence of how direct payment works in practice would help landlords that are concerned about how they will mitigate its impact. Housing benefit tenants Landlords fear arrears will rise and they will have to spend more on administration.

The DWP has strongly discouraged social landlords on the pilots from mentioning the results, including levels of arrears and numbers of successful payments.

The DWP did release some details of lessons learned and said it had found that landlords ‘need to have a greater understanding of their tenants’.

Kevin Dodd, chief executive of pilot project landlord Wakefield and District Housing, said: ‘We would find out a lot more, cheaper and quicker, if data could be transferred more easily between statutory agencies and housing providers.’

More than 23,000 people have moved off the benefit cap and into work since its introduction in 2013, according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Ministers plan to extend an exemption for supported housing from the ‘Local Housing Allowance cap’ as they seek a long-term solution to the problem.

A housing association is calling for changes to Universal Credit, after its unofficial ‘pilot’ showed tenants receiving housing benefit payments direct are more likely to fall into arrears.

The government has pledged to improve Universal Credit procedures this summer, following concerns from social landlords that they are frequently not informed that their tenants are claiming the benefit.