NIACE submits evidence on proposed Universal Credit regulations

30 July 2012

NIACE has submitted its response to the Social Security Advisory Committee’s call for evidence on the Universal Credit regulations, which closed on 27 July 2012.

In its response, NIACE indentified three main areas of concern:

  • the insufficient digital capability of some claimants creating barriers to access to the benefit;
  • the potential for the new benefit to reduce opportunities for adults to improve their skills; and
  • the lack of coherence between universal credit and the new Further Education (FE) loans system for learners at level 3 aged over 24.

NIACE proposes that these areas can be addressed by:

  • ensuring that claimants with low or no IT skills can access alternative methods of claiming and at the same time are automatically referred to and enabled to attend introductory IT courses;
  • introducing a major national financial capability programme for newly unemployed adults;
  • ensuring an effective join up at a local level between Jobcentre Plus Advisors, local providers and the National Careers Service so that adults can study part-time to enhance their job seeking prospects; and
  • ensuring that the new loans system for learners over the age of 24 in FE advanced level study from Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Universal Credit regulations from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) work in accord and to the benefit of those enhancing their skills for employability.

Penny Lamb, NIACE’s Head of Policy Development, said:

“NIACE is clear on the significance of learning and skills to improve the chances of unemployed adults in gaining sustained employment. We need the benefit system to support this by effective links between government departments. And we need a local join up to ensure that new claimants can gain the IT capability they need for a digital claiming system, gain financial capability skills to deal with the major changes through losing a job and to address skills needs to be most effective in the labour market. Our evidence to the Committee highlights our areas of concern and proposals to address these.”