Hammond pledges £1.5bn to address universal credit worries

22 Nov 17

Philip Hammond has pledged a £1.5bn package to address concerns over the controversial flagship welfare reform programme universal credit.

Claimants will no longer have to wait seven days before they are entitled to money, the chancellor said delivering his Budget in the Commons today.

New universal credit claimants will be able to receive advances for two weeks and the repayments period will be extended from six months to 12 months, Hammond announced.

“To provide greater support during the waiting period we will change the advances system to ensure that any household that needs it can access a full month’s payment within five days of applying,” he added.

It will also be possible to apply for an advance online, he said.

A ‘targeted affordability fund’ to help people in areas where rents were high will be increased by £125m over the next two years.

Councils told Public Finance last month the programme should be halted as they were diverting their own scarce funds into helping universal credit claimants.   

The Charted Institute of Housing, responding to the Budget, said: “We hope to see further progress on some of the other issues affecting universal credit claimants, including administrative delays and lack of information.”

It repeated its call to slow down the roll-out so the government “can make sure it gets this vital reform right”.

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