The Chancellor has announced changes to the roll out of Universal Credit, addressing a number of concerns which had previously been raised about the viability of the scheme.
Concerns had been raised about waiting times for payments to be made to applicants, with some claimants anxious that they would be waiting up to 6 weeks for payments to be made.
However the system of Universal Credit, which is expected to reduce UK unemployment by 250,000, received a £1.5 billion boost as part of the measures the chancellor announced in the budget.
As part of this new investment the Government have announced the following changes:
Abolition of Waiting Days - waiting times will be reduced from 7 days for new claimants, reducing the length of time applicants are waiting for their first payment.
Increasing advances - From January, eligible claimants will be offered advance payments worth 100% and payments will be recovered over 12 months regardless of the level of advance payment.
Further Support with Housing Costs - Claimants who were in receipt of housing benefit will receive a transitional payment worth on average £233 per claimant when they move to Universal Credit. This payment will not be recovered, will be paid automatically and received early in the first assessment period.
Assistance with budgeting - Claimants who have difficulty managing their finances can quality for help under the Universal Support Scheme through their local authority.
Helping people into work - Universal Credit is 13% more likely to provide access to work than Job Seekers Allowance. Through this budget £8 million has been allocated over 4 years to monitor and test the efficiency of the support network being provided through Universal Credit to help people access employment.
The proposals have been welcomed by Meriden MP, Dame Caroline Spelman. She said, “Constituents have raised concerns with me about the roll out of this programme and I did meet with both the District Manager for Solihull Jobcentre Plus and wrote to the Government with their concerns.
“I am pleased that the Chancellor has listened to those concerns and delivered a comprehensive package of improvements to Universal Credit worth £1.5 billion.
“These measures mean that the system is now more generous in terms of cash flow and ensures that more claimants will get more money sooner -a positive step forward in our ambition to build a fairer system that provides the right support to those who need it most”.
The roll out of Universal Credit has been designed to replace the following benefits:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit