Supporting the national Citizens Advice campaign to improve Universal Credit
What are the problems?
There have been many, well-publicised problems with the delivery of Universal Credit (UC), which is designed to replace six different welfare benefits (Income Support, Income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income-based Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, and Housing Benefit). Key problems are:
- a complex online system for applying for UC, which takes time to complete successfully, and for maintaining an online account
- a delay of at least 5 weeks and sometimes much longer, to receive the first payment of UC, leading to debts including rent arrears, and
- sudden changes in the monthly amount of UC paid, particularly for people who have a fluctuating income, such as the self-employed
- large compulsory deductions from UC payments for current debts or sanctions
What we are doing to help
Last year Citizens Advice led a successful national campaign, which we supported with evidence of our clients’ early experience of applying for UC, to get the Government to pause the rollout of UC until the main problems with its delivery had been fixed. (Click here for a summary of Citizens Advice’s recommendations and the Government’s response to them). The Government made some changes to the scheme, but Citizens Advice’s most recent report shows that the main problems still have not been fixed, and Citizens Advice is continuing its national campaign to improve UC delivery.
In the borough, UC was fully rolled out on 20 June 2018, and we are assembling evidence of our clients’ experience of UC, both good and bad, to contribute to the national campaign. We are also encouraging our clients to take part in Citizens Advice’s national survey of applicants’ experience of UC.