Next phase of Universal Credit rollout begins

21 Sep 15

The government’s flagship Universal Credit welfare reform will be available in three-quarters of all jobcentres by Christmas under the next phase of its national rollout, ministers have said.

The Department for Work and Pensions said that more than 110,000 people are now receiving Universal Credit, with an average of more than 5,500 new claims every week. Almost 35,000 people on Universal Credit are already in work it said.

Universal Credit merges six benefits into one payment and is intended to react to changes in earnings so that people are always better off in work. The payment will eventually replace Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.

However the rollout of the scheme, which has been criticised by auditors and MPs, was delayed due to problems with the technology needed to implement the change.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said 24 additional jobcentres in 12 local authority areas across the UK would now begin to take new claims from single unemployed jobseekers. The benefit will arrive at 170 more jobcentres over the next three months, and will available across the country by spring next year.

Duncan Smith said Universal Credit was ‘revolutionising’ the benefits system, and ensuring people were better off in work.

“Already we have seen a remarkable positive change, with claimants finding a job faster, staying in work for longer, and crucially, earning more,” he said.

The DWP said the latest research showed jobseekers on Universal Credit find work faster, stay in jobs for longer, and double the time they look for work when compared to those on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

It also said that once fully rolled out it would save taxpayers more than £2.6bn each year in reduced fraud and error.

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