Latest Public Sector News

20.06.14

Universal Credit expanded into north west

Universal Credit will be rolled out across the north west of England from Monday, but the total number of jobcentres offering the flagship scheme will still only total 90 – one in eight of the total across Britain.

The rollout will begin with the jobcentres in Altrincham, Hyde, Stalybridge and Stretford offering the benefit, which – according to government statistics – was claimed by more than 6,500 people up until March, with 90% of these claims being made online.

The north west rollout will then continue across Lancashire and Merseyside.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, claimants will benefit from better work incentives under Universal Credit.

Iain Duncan Smith, secretary of state for Work and Pensions, said: “Universal Credit is already changing lives: we are seeing claimants spending more time looking for jobs and moving smoothly into employment safe in the knowledge that it will always pay more to be in work. This gives them security and hope for their children.”

The Department added that people are able to move in and out of work more smoothly, and Universal Credit gives Jobcentres instant access to HMRC earnings data so that they can make sure people are receiving the right amount of support to progress in work.

Then concept behind Universal Credit is that it is designed to incentivise people to look for work rather than choosing to live on benefits. It does this via a scaling system whereby those on lower incomes may still be entitled to Universal Credit, rather than losing all benefits upon finding work.

However, campaigners have raised concerns regarding the welfare reform, including that those with disabilities who say they could lose between £28 and £58 per week.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who is an independent peer, said: “Under the new system it is going to be difficult for a number of disabled people. The government says people are protected but it’s only for current benefit claimants.”

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