PEOPLE receiving Universal Credit owe £750,000 in unpaid council house rent, figures show.

Statistics from Brighton and Hove City Council show those who claim the controversial benefit owe £753,382 rent, as of June.

That represents a rise of almost £600,000 since the same time last year.

Almost two thirds of council house tenants who receive Universal Credit do not have enough money to pay their rent.

City council leader Nancy Platts said the benefit system was “deeply flawed”.

She said: “I know from meeting people at food banks in my own ward of East Brighton that debt is a major cause of anxiety.

“Late payment of Universal Credit is forcing them to choose between eating and paying their bills.

“Rent arrears can increase due to initial delays in payments of Universal Credit and changes in the way tenants need to manage their payments and their claims.”

Labour Cllr Platts said the council works with tenants to keep debt payments affordable.

“We work with tenants on a debt plan and set any repayments needed at a manageable rate,” she said.

“We look at every case and work with the tenants to help them make sure they know what they need to do.”

Universal Credit, which aims to combine different benefits into tailor-made monthly payments, has been criticised by many for not paying enough.

In Brighton and Hove, 57 per cent of all rent owed to the council in June was owed by those claiming the benefit.

That is compared with 27 per cent in June 2018.

The average council house resident on Universal Credit who is in debt owes £777.

Anne Amner, of the Whitehawk Foodbank, said Universal Credit payments are not enough to cover debt and bills.

She said: “Generally, people who should be receiving it are getting what they’re entitled to but there’s just not enough.

“If they get into arrears and then have to take a loan while they wait five weeks for their first payment, their repayments will last for a long time.”

But a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said Universal Credit recipients do get out of debt.

He said: “Our research shows many people join Universal Credit with pre-existing arrears but the proportion of people with arrears falls by a third after four months.”