McVey outlines support to help universal credit claimants

1 Oct 18

Work and pensions secretary Esther McVey announced to the Conservative Party conference today £39m is to be given to a support service to help people access universal credit.

Admitting there had been “concerns of claimants, constituents, charities, welfare organisations and colleagues” over the policy – which rolls six working-age benefits into one – she told the conference in Birmingham: “People spoke, I listened.”

The Department for Work and Pensions will provide the £39m from April 2019 to Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland to help people access universal credit benefits.

Money is coming from the £200m universal support budget, a funding stream established in 2015 to help claimants with use computers to make their claims and with budgeting.

“This brand new partnership with Citizens Advice will ensure everyone, and in particular the most vulnerable claimants, get the best possible support with their claim that is consistently administered throughout the country,” McVey told Conservative delegates. 

The partnership will begin immediately and run alongside the benefits work of local authorities, which currently support claimants with universal credit applications. From April next year, Citizens Advice will take over the service completely.

In addition to the £39m to run the service, Citziens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland will receive £12m to set up delivery in the run up to April.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We offer independent and confidential advice to millions of people every year, and have already helped nearly 150,000 people with universal credit.

“We’ve seen first-hand what can happen when people struggle to make a claim and their payments are delayed.”

Since the policy started to be rolled out in 2013 it has been much criticised, because of long waits for benefit payments, technology glitches and local councils saying they have had to subside tenants to keep them in their homes.

Universal credit is still in the process of being rolled out nationally.

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