Universal Credit criticism
2019 - July, Latest news
A review of Universal Credit has said the application process should come with a health warning because of the risks to claimants. The Government’s Commons Select Committee branded the benefits system ‘baffling’ and says key problems need fixing immediately.
In a report called Universal Credit: natural migration the committee points out that many claimants who move to UC are far worse off than they were under the former system but they are not allowed to transfer back to their original benefits.
Many people move onto UC before they need to because they have misunderstood the rules or been wrongly advised by DWP staff, the report says, but they are then stuck with their new claim, even if they are worse off.
“The majority of claimants on existing benefits will move, or have already moved, to UC through a process known as “natural migration”, which usually happens when their circumstances change. There are no safeguards in place to stop other claimants from moving across prematurely, and potentially losing out by doing so.
“Understanding whether someone needs to move to UC and the impact it will have on their income is far from straightforward—but the Department has not provided clear or comprehensive information on this to its staff or others. Claimants whose circumstances have not changed are therefore at risk of moving to UC either inadvertently, not realising that they will lose out, or because they are given the wrong advice by DWP staff or other organisations.”
PA Housing offers specialist advice to customers facing a move to UC.
We were helping around 1000 customers a year to secure more than £3.5million in additional benefits. However, in 2018, because of the increase in numbers and complexity of some claims, we realised that our customers required a dedicated specialist service. We set up the UC Hub with specialist, trained advisors who carry out telephone interviews, visit customers at their homes, and support them at JobCentre interviewsTenancy Sustainment Manager, Ian Clutton
The team ensures that customers claim all the benefits they are entitled to, including Housing Benefit run-on to help them out during the initial waiting period. They also help claimants set up email addresses and bank accounts, if necessary.
Guiding customers through UC claims has helped to keep many of them from falling into debt. We currently have 2210 customers claiming UC. The Hub has already assisted 746 households and average arrears increase is now just £18.71 per account. Prior to the introduction of the Hub, arrears on new UC accounts were building up to an average of £250 per account.
Many people go through the UC application process with no trouble, but if you feel you need advice please contact us.
Call us on 0300 123 2221 or