At Citizens Advice we’ve helped people with over 200,000 Universal Credit (UC) issues since it was introduced. Our clients’ evidence helped us play a key role in persuading the Government to make changes that ensure UC works for the people who need it most.
Why things need to change
Universal Credit is the biggest change ever made to the benefits system. By 2022, more than 7 million households will be receiving it, over half of whom will be in work.
Our unparalleled insight and data means we’ve seen the equivalent of more than 1 in 10 of all new starts on UC and based on this evidence last year we called on the Government to make important changes to UC.
- In November’s Budget, the Government announced a £1.5 billion package to improve UC. The Government committed to a number of changes we had been calling for, including:
- Removing the 7 waiting days.
- Introducing an additional non-repayable financial payment for those moving from Housing Benefit to UC to help people pay their rent.
- Changes to Advance Payments so claimants can receive 100% of their payment as an advance, and pay it back over 12 months.
- All claimants being told they can get an Advance Payment.
- Making the UC helpline free.
- A slow down in the roll out of full service UC.
- Closure of new claims to the ‘live service’.
- The Government will also be looking at Universal Support to ensure those who need it are helped to get onto UC and to adapt to the changes involved, and wider changes to UC and the taper rate are under review.
What we’re doing next
The changes announced at the Budget are starting to bed in and the roll out is accelerating. We’ll be examining how the Government’s changes are affecting our clients and whether their experiences claiming UC are changing.
We’re concerned by some of the early evidence, for example with regard to the timeliness of payments and the impact that is having on people’s ability to make ends meet. We’ll be monitoring this closely as rollout continues.
We’ll also be building on the work we’ve done on looking at how UC impacts low income workers. By the time UC is fully rolled out in 2022, more than half of the households claiming UC will be in work. Our analysis found that some workers may struggle to achieve financial stability on UC – particularly those affected by reductions made to the benefit since 2015 and those in less traditional forms of work.