NEW housing benefit applicants in Ceredigion are having to wait three weeks for their claims to be processed, new data has revealed.
The Cambrian News reported “Between July and September last year, new claimants waited on average 21 days before their application was completed, according to data from the Department for Work and Pensions.
That’s slightly below the British average of 22 days, which includes weekends.
This waiting time can be worrying for applicants, and the housing charity Shelter says they can be threatened with eviction and face homelessness.
Over the same period in 2016, applicants had to wait longer with an average delay of 27 days.
According to the figures, the local authority processed 270 new cases over the three months.
In total there are 4,177 housing benefit claimants in Ceredigion.
Residents are eligible for housing benefit if they rent, are on a low income or other benefits, and if their savings are below £16,000.
The amount you receive differs depending on whether you rent from the council, or privately, your salary and whether you have any spare rooms.
Ceredigion was quicker at dealing with current claimants who had changed their living circumstances.
Those applications took on average one week to complete.
Charities have warned that delays in processing benefits can have a serious impact on the applicants’ lives.
Polly Neate, Shelter chief executive, said: “Processing delays and admin errors mean landlords are increasingly reluctant to let to anyone on housing benefit.
“On top of that payments are too low and completely out of sync with the cost of private rents. This has left too many struggling renters battling against the tide to keep a roof over their head.
“It’s simply not right that so many people are teetering on the brink of homelessness” here.