Next phase of Universal Credit rollout begins22 September 2015
As of this week, the government’s flagship welfare reform, Universal Credit, enters into the next stage of its national rollout and will be available in three-quarters of all job centres by Christmas.
New figures have emerged from The Department of Work and Pensions which show that over 110,000 people are now in receipt of Universal Credit, with more than 5,500 new claims on average a week. DWP also stated that approximately 35,000 people on Universal Credit were already benefiting from combined in and out of work payments.
From the 21st of September, 24 job centres from Durham to Wales, covering 12 local authority areas across the UK will begin to take new claims from single unemployed job seekers. This means that Universal Credit will be available across the UK arriving at 170 more job centres over the next 3 months, by spring next year.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith said:
“Our one nation government is acting in the interests of the whole country, moving us to a higher wage, lower tax and lower welfare society by reforming the benefit system to ensure people are better off in work. Universal Credit is revolutionizing the way the benefit system works because it not only supports people to find a job, it also goes on to help them increase their earnings. Already we have seen a remarkable positive change, with claimants finding a job faster, staying in work for longer, and – crucially – earning more.”
Universal Credit is currently available in more than 50% of all jobcentres (384), including all of the north-west, where it is also available to couples and families.
It merges six benefits into a single payment and will eventually replace Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.
Universal Credit is paid monthly and is intended to encourage people into work and reduce the amount of benefits they receive.
It is said to save taxpayers over £2.6 billion each year in reduced fraud and error once completely rolled out. However, auditors and MPs criticise this due to the delay in rolling out the scheme caused by problems with the technology needed to implement the change.
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