THOUSANDS more Brits could be pushed into debt or homelessness if problems with a Universal Credit roll out aren’t fixed, MPs have warned.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been told by concerned MPs to “prove it is up to the job” before beginning its planned “managed migration” later this month.
1 Concerned MPs have warned the DWP to fix issues with Universal Credit before rolling it out to everyoneCredit: Alamy
Managed migration is the process of moving millions of households who claim benefits on to Universal Credit.
Up until now, existing benefit claimants have only been moved onto the new system if their circumstances have changed, such as moving house, having a baby or losing a job.
The roll out has already been delayed multiple times, but now the DWP plans to migrate 10,000 people living in Harrogate onto the system in the coming months as part of a trial.
The Government hopes for everyone claiming benefits to be on Universal Credit by March 2023.
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal CreditIF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:
Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it’s a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit pay out.
Alternative Payment Arrangements- If you’re falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you’re part of a couple.
Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the government to help with emergency household costs of up to £348 if you’re single, £464 if you’re part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You’ll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You’ll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your payments aren’t enough to cover your rent.
Foodbanks – If you’re really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
But MPs from the Commons Select Committee, have slammed the DWP for ignoring expert recommendations on how to make sure the move won’t thrust thousands further into hardship.
Its chair, Frank Field, said: “Anyone who sees their income slashed or their circumstances and life chances reduced, or any of the other messes Universal Credit is getting people across this land into, will find no comfort in learning it didn’t happen on purpose…
“We, like so many others, have asked the government not to move to “managed migration” until it demonstrates it is ready to do so safely, without exposing a single claimant or their children to debt, hunger, or homelessness.”
The committee had previously argued that DWP must not “ignore the swell of expert voices warning that the Government’s approach to moving vulnerable people to Universal Credit could end in disaster and destitution”.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit WorkUNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:
Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
Keep more of what you earn:The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
In response, the Government promised it wouldn’t end legacy benefits during the pilot and committed to report on its findings.
But the group now worries that the DWP has “willfully missed the point” and that it won’t adapt the process if parts of the trial are unsuccessful.
Mr Field added: “DWP should not move one person onto Universal Credit until it does tests, and does learn, and proves it is ready to safely do so.”
A DWP spokesperson told The Sun: “When moving people onto Universal Credit, it is wrong to suggest that this department is resistant in any way to the idea of tests.
“We have already set out ten tests of readiness, and pilot outcomes will be subject to full and rigorous review – including operational readiness.
“We are working with numerous expert stakeholders during the pilot, ensuring vulnerable and complex claimants are fully supported and safely moved over to Universal Credit.
“As well as consulting with Parliament before extending the process to more people.”
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The Sun has launched its Make Universal Credit Work campaign calling on the government to stop the system putting people into debt.
So far, it’s estimated that 120,000 people on Universal Credit have fallen behind on rent – and 500 have been evicted.
We spoke to single-mum Tina Davidson who’s facing homelessness with her toddler because she can’t get help with her mortgage.
Universal Credit bosses accused of holding 10,000 people to ransom after they lost money by switching benefits
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