Ahh Universal Credit, the two elusive words filled with such promise, yet, (at the moment) delivering so little. Notorious for its constant delays, we are sorry to report that the Universal Credit switch has been pushed back even further as ministers announced even more delays just yesterday. The switch has already started to take place, but an at an extremely slow rate, with many people still subject to the old system. The full roll out is now not expected to take place until March 2022, this will mean the new date will be an extension of a year from the previous date in place and no less than eleven years since the switch was originally announced. Many people want to know why.
What is it?
Universal Credit, which was originally set to be scheduled in 2017, is the government’s aim to roll what is currently six different types of benefits into one, so claimants will receive one monthly payment of whatever they are entitled to. You are entitled to Universal Credit if you are either on a low-income or out of work completely. If you receive benefits such as Job-Seeker’s Allowance or Child Tax Credits then if you haven’t already, you will be switched over to receiving Universal Credits sometime in the near future (we hope). Rather than weekly payments, the new system will act like a salary, being paid into the recipient’s bank account. Rather than switching those over that are used to receiving a weekly payment of various different benefits, Universal Credit has been focusing on those that are newly unemployed and new to receiving benefits. Universal Credit will also replace Working Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. There are many reasons that the government has chosen to (slowly) transition over to Universal Credit, one being that it generally makes more sense. Many different payments can become complicated and confusing and whilst Universal Credit is causing slight chaos at the moment, once the switch is complete, things will be simpler.
Universal credit is also designed to help with rent payments, the money will be calculated for you and included in your monthly payment where you will then be required to pay the landlord directly, helping to prevent missed payments and evictions. Anybody that lives with a partner who is also eligible will receive one big monthly payment, where you can manage it accordingly. By visiting one of the many sites online you can get an estimate of how much Universal Credit you are eligible for and how it differs from what you are currently receiving. You can make your claim via the universal Credit website.
With so many people in the UK receiving financial support, there is an awful lot of work to do to ensure the turnover is a success. Combine millions of people, all with different details, with complicated computer systems and you may just be able to get an understanding of the sheer scale of the multi-billion pound project. This has not stopped an unimpressed cabinet questioning ministers on why the switch is taking so long, with people unsure on how much monthly money they are entitled to receive and when they will begin receiving it. Recently, a ministerial statement has revealed a revised schedule of the proceedings, which is in conjunction with the changes made to the 2015 summer budget, which included the controversial move of only allowing child tax credits for the first two children of a family. As it stands, Universal Credit has 279, 000 claimants. Despite MP’s accusing that the project could have been completed quicker, permanent DWP secretary Robert Devereux has claimed that the switch is complex and probably the biggest project the DWP has undertaken. Another movement delaying procedures was the emergency brake that was going to be put into place on the benefits that migrants were receiving. This was part of David Cameron’s EU negotiations and since the UK has now opted to leave the EU, these are no longer in place. The government has also been urged to tweak the programme through concerns that it is going to fare hard on low-income and unemployed families. The pressure to ensure that the system fits with today’s climate is also delaying the process.
When it eventually happens, there are many in favour for Universal credit, supporting those that need it at an affordable cost for the tax payer. The constant tweaks that are ongoing to the system are all in the name of improvements so as not to disappoint people further after many cuts introduced by ex-chancellor George Osbourne. With a complete cabinet overhaul it could also be possible that proceedings were affected by not only complex IT systems but also management failings. Will the development now stay on track and will the 6m people in need of Universal Credit, have it by 2022?