Helena bosses have urged tenants to seek help as the government’s latest welfare reform hit St Helens this week.
They warned that the introduction of universal credit - which replaces jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, income support, child tax credit, working tax credit and housing benefit - could cause “big problems”.
All new single claimants, aged between 18 and 60, applying for benefits while jobless or working on a low income will receive the new benefit.
Money will be paid monthly, in arrears, into a bank, building society or Post Office account. All applications must be made online through the www.gov.uk website.
Helena Partnership’s director, Gill Healey, said: “Not only will customers be paid monthly, not weekly, they’ll be responsible for paying their rent, too, and that’s a huge change.
“Most of our customers are used to having their rent paid directly to us, as housing benefit. With universal credit, housing costs will be paid to customers, instead, who will then pay us.
“Failing to budget could find people falling into debt and, in the very worst instance, losing their home.”
She added: “A change of circumstance, like becoming unemployed, will automatically trigger a switch to universal credit. We urge any Helena customer whose circumstances change to let us know immediately.
“Working in partnership with St Helens Council and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau we can help customers get online to claim, open a bank account and manage their money for monthly payments.”
Universal Credit has been piloted in 10 areas across the country on a rolling programme since 2013.
Helena Partnerships is urging any customers who are switched to universal credit or whose circumstances change to get in touch immediately on 01744 637383.