New Survey: Universal Credit is leading to a rise in homelessness across the UK, particularly in urban areas
4 April, 2019

  • On the one-year anniversary of the Homelessness Reduction Act, a respected quarterly survey found that 65 per cent of council chiefs think Universal Credit is increasing homelessness in their areas, with only 2 per cent saying it has led to a decrease
  • 78 per cent of council chief executives, leaders and mayors of predominately urban areas state that universal credit has prompted a rise in homelessness
  • Over a quarter of Conservative council leaders and council mayors report that universal credit is increasing homelessness.

Universal credit is increasing levels of homelessness across the UK according to a respected quarterly survey of all council chief executives, leaders and mayors. The news comes one year after the Government’s flagship Homelessness Reduction Act became law.

The NLGN Leadership Index found that 65 per cent of council chiefs think universal credit has led to an increase in homelessness in their areas, with only 2 per cent saying it has led to a decrease. The figures rise when looking at predominantly urban councils (London and Metropolitan Boroughs): in those areas, 78 per cent of council chief executives, leaders and mayors agree or strongly agree that universal credit has prompted a rise.

The news will come as a further blow to the Government’s key welfare initiative which has already faced extensive criticism leading to a series of climbdowns on key parts of the policy. Councils fear that the many delays in processing claims, lower payments and the challenges for many claimants of transitioning from one system to another are all playing their part in raising homelessness.

As NLGN’s survey reveals, the policy is now attracting criticism from Conservatives delivering the Government’s homelessness strategy across local authorities. Over a quarter of Conservative council leaders and mayors report that universal credit is increasing homelessness in their areas.

Adam Lent, the Director of the New Local Government Network, said:

“On the one hand the Government is pressing councils hard to reduce homelessness and on the other it is pursuing a welfare policy that is increasing homelessness. This is patently irrational and self-defeating. The Government must conduct an urgent review of how Universal Credit is increasing homelessness and make the necessary changes to its welfare policy to remedy the situation”.

The NLGN Leadership Index is a survey of council leaders, chief executives and mayors of local authorities across the UK first published in March 2018. It provides a platform for councils to express their level of confidence in delivering key services and the overall experience of their community.

Notes to editors
1. The full analysis of the latest Leadership Index survey can be found here.
2. For further information, please contact Molly Jarritt, External Affairs Officers at NLGN, on 07714 448036 or mjarritt@nlgn.org.uk.
3. The NLGN Leadership Index survey was sent to 816 council leaders, chief executives and mayors across the UK. It was open between 27th February 2019 and Friday 8th March 2019. This latest
survey received a total of 188 complete responses, which translates to a 24 per cent response rate. Survey responses were received from all UK regions.
4. NLGN Leadership Index April 2019 asked respondents about the impact of Universal Credit on homelessness in their council’s area. Questions and responses as follows:



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