Universal Credit U-turn

Friday, 11th January 2019

THE Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd, has announced a set of reforms to the Government’s new Universal Credit (UC), saying that the system she inherited was not as “effective” or “compassionate” as she wanted.

Ms Rudd has confirmed that she was delaying asking Parliament for permission to move three million people on to UC until next year, after a pilot of the transfer from existing benefits has been completed. Instead, the government will run a pilot involving 10,000 people going through the universal credit process.

About 15,000 families no longer face the two-child benefit cap which was going to retrospectively affect new Universal Credit (UC) claimants, after the government performed another U-turn and scrapped the idea.

She said it was not “reasonable” to impose the two-child cap – intended to force claimants to make decisions on whether they can afford a third child in the same way as those in work – on families which already have more than two offspring.

The Child Poverty Action Group said the decision was “fantastically good news”, but the group is still calling for the two-child cap to be scrapped for all other families.

Labour said the change “does not go far enough”.

Universal Credit rolled out in full to Tamworth on 29 November 2017.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a benefit payment for people in or out of work.

It replaces some of the benefits and tax credits you might be getting now:

  • Housing Benefit.
  • Child Tax Credit.
  • Income Support.
  • Working Tax Credit.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

Ms Rudd told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she remained committed to the completion of the “migration” of claimants of six old benefits onto UC by 2023.

“I’m absolutely convinced that Universal Credit is a far better system than the legacy system it replaces,” she said.

“This is a really ambitious project. It’s going to impact on 8 million people’s lives when it is finally completed. It is inevitable that, as we roll it out, as we make the changes, we are learning about how to do it better.

“Maybe things that were were proposed previously weren’t effective or weren’t compassionate in the way that I want them to be. So I’m going to be perfectly bold about making those changes where I need to.”

She added: “I’m not accepting that it wasn’t compassionate in the first place. It was. I’m just reinforcing that.”

Ms Rudd, who became work and pensions secretary in November, accepted there were problems with universal credit, and promised to “learn from errors” and “adjust” the system after taking expert guidance.

Her predecessor Esther McVey had already announced changes to ensure claimants were given more time to switch to the benefit and would not have to wait so long for their money.

Universal Credit Key Facts

  • If you live in England or Wales and get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly payment – you’ll then pay your landlord directly.
  • If you live with someone as a couple and you are both entitled to claim UC, you will get a joint payment paid into a single bank account.
  • UC is paid in arrears so it can take up to five weeks after you make your claim to get your first payment.
  • There are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you’re claiming UC. Instead, the amount you get will gradually reduce as you earn more, so you won’t lose all your benefits at once.
  • You usually have to make your claim online.

Have you been affected by Universal Credit? Are you worse off since it’s introduction or is it a fairer way to do things? Let us know what you think – email newsdesk@tamworthinformed.co.uk or comment on our social channels.