Work and Pensions Committee identify need for web service for landlords to share information with DWP
Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee has called for the creation of a “landlords’ portal” as part of the Universal Credit programme.
It has made the recommendation in its new Benefits Delivery report, which focuses largely on the programme to combine several benefits into a single payment as the flagship reform of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
The committee notes that the replacement of housing benefit is one of the major features of the programme, and has followed the suggestion of the National Housing Federation that there is a need for a two-way flow of information between landlords and the DWP.
During its hearings on the issue there were claims that a portal could help landlords to deal with simple enquiries, and that it will be important for the department to share data with housing associations effectively.
In response, the report recommends the development of a landlord portal, which should be tested in one of the three areas in which a digital Universal Credit service is operating.
“The DWP is already exploring options for online resources in the digital service and Universal Credit is still in the ‘test and learn’ phase,” it says. “Now is therefore an opportune time to develop other online tools, such as a landlord portal for the housing element.”
Although it provides few details of the other tools, it suggests there is a need for an online service for claimants to track claims for personal independence payments.
The report also says that the flow of real time information income tax data from HM Revenue & Customs has not so far prevented an increase in fraud and error on housing benefit, but that it could do so, and help to reduce the level of underpayments to benefits claimants.
Assessing benefits delivery overall, the report says that Universal Credit has laudable objectives in attempting to simplify and streamline much of the welfare system, but that its implementation is proving very slow and that there is still too much fraud and error in payments.
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