A rise in the number of missed rent payments following a welfare shake-up has led to a claim the new system is not working.

Housing association Peabody, which owns more than 1,300 homes in Barnet, says the roll-out of Universal Credit has “undoubtedly had an adverse effect” on its ability to collect rent payments.

It said: “At the end of March 2019 we had 91 Universal Credit cases in Barnet and the [rent] arrears on these cases alone stood at 14.85 per cent.

“This has now increased to 115 cases and arrears are 17.95 per cent.”

The council’s target for arrears collection is 3.1 per cent, while House Mark statistics show the average rent arrears for London to be 4.1 per cent.

Another housing association, One Housing – which has more than 200 homes in the borough – said it had “continued to be impacted by welfare benefits changes like Universal Credit, underoccupancy and benefit cap”.

Their comments are set out in the annual performance review of registered providers, which was discussed at a meeting of Barnet’s housing and growth committee on Tuesday (November 26).

Cllr Paul Edwards (Labour, Underhill) told the meeting: “I want to flag up, in this report, the failure of Universal Credit.

“I know we’re in purdah, but the Conservative government brought this in, and many people are suffering as a result – through no fault of their own, but because the system does not work.”

Universal Credit, which combines six previously separate welfare payments into one monthly lump sum, was launched by the Government in 2013 and is still being rolled out.

A report published in April by the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed people on the lowest incomes lost out disproportionately after moving onto the benefit.

Cllr Ross Houston (West Finchley), Labour parliamentary candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, told the meeting the arrears figure for Peabody was “incredibly high” and “very concerning”.

The Peabody Group said it had “recently rolled out a number of new compliance tools to the collections team and [we] are already seeing positive effects with arrears on several patches reducing”.

One Housing Group added: “There are mitigating actions in place sufficient to deal with the changes, however the position continues to be monitored closely, especially as Universal Credit cases increase.”