Universal Credit – information from DWP at 18 December 2017

Universal Credit replaces legacy payments with a single monthly payment – merging six benefits into one. It ensures people are better off in work by gradually reducing the benefit payment as earnings increase, so claimants will not lose all their benefits at once, as they would in the old system.

People are moving into work faster and staying in work for longer under Universal Credit. Universal Credit claimants are more likely to be in work within six months than compared to claimants in similar circumstances on the old system. When fully rolled out, Universal Credit is expected to boost employment by around 250,000 – this equates to an average of nearly 400 jobs in every constituency in the UK.

Universal Credit is performing well: the vast majority of claimants now receive their first payment on time. Uptake of advances has increased and they are providing support to claimants in the first few weeks of their claim. We are introducing Universal Credit gradually. Of the total number of households that will eventually move onto Universal Credit, 9% are currently receiving it and this will increase to 12% by February 2018.

As we roll out Universal Credit, we are constantly improving how the system works. The recent announcements offer a balanced package of improvements which puts more money into claimants’ hands earlier and addresses all of the issues claimants face at the beginning of their claim.

Abolishing waiting days

Much comment has focused on the initial seven ‘waiting days’. From February 2018, we are removing the seven-day waiting period for new Universal Credit claimants, reducing the length of time claimants might wait to receive their first full payment.

Increasing advances

In Universal Credit claimants are entitled to an advance of up to 50% of the first month’s payment – with the following six months’ payments adjusted to account for this.

From January 2018, we will be changing the system so that new Universal Credit claimants will be offered an advance of up to 100%. In practice, this means that new claimants in December can already receive an advance of up to 50% of their overall entitlement, and may receive a second advance to take it up to 100% in the New Year. Taken with the first payment, this means that claimants in need could receive nearly double the money they would usually get.

We will also be making all payments of advances recoverable over 12 months – if this is what claimants want, regardless of the level of the advance claimed. In addition, from spring next year, we will be making it possible to apply for an advance online – further increasing accessibility for those who need it.

It is worth noting that a self-service advance will be made available from spring 2018, where claimants can request an advance from their online account.

 Support with housing costs

Nearly all of the most vulnerable claimants currently receive Housing Benefit. So claimants who were previously receiving Housing Benefit will receive a transitional payment – an extra two weeks support worth on average £233 per claimant – when they move to Universal Credit. This will be unrecoverable, automatic and received early in the first assessment period.

Alternative Payment Arrangements for Landlords

From December 2017, new guidance will be issued to staff to ensure that claimants in the Private Rented Sector, who have managed payments to landlords for their legacy Housing Benefit, are offered this option when they join Universal Credit, provided the relevant criteria continue to be met. This gives additional continuity to claimants when they join Universal Credit.

Temporary accommodation housing support

Currently local authorities see a funding shortage when they place people into temporary and emergency accommodation as they could only recoup around 50% of the cost from Universal Credit. This housing support will be increased to 80% of their expenditure on temporary accommodation.

Providing budgeting help

Finally, those claimants who have difficulty managing their finances can currently qualify for help under the Universal Support scheme, delivered by Local Authorities. We are also exploring with Citizen’s Advice the scope for greater collaborative working to help claimants locally as they move to Universal Credit, and hope to be able to offer an update on this in due course.

 Helping claimants progress in work

In addition to these measures, the Government has allocated £8m over four years to conduct a suite of tests and trials to support development of the evidence about what works to help people progress in work. This includes women whom are returning to work and those whom are in insecure work.

 

Comprehensive support

This is a comprehensive and wide-ranging package worth £1.5 billion. It is significantly more generous than reducing the UC payment to one month. In terms of cash flow, our package of reforms mean that under Universal Credit, by the time of their first payment, a single claimant aged over 25 receiving housing support in the private rented sector can receive just over £1200, including their advance. By contrast, the equivalent claimant in JSA would receive just £700.

As you may be aware, the Scottish Government have powers to introduce their own flexibilities in certain areas of Universal Credit. We will work closely with the Scottish Government as we take these measures forward.

We must not forget that the support we give people is about more than just money. It is about the help we give people to get into work, to stay in work, and stand on their own two feet. That is what Universal Credit is about – and it will change our welfare system for the better.

Please find attached below a link to the updated Universal Credit Full Service roll out dates

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-transition-to-full-service

Freephone Numbers

Secretary of State David Gauke announced in October that DWP would introduce Freephone numbers to replace its existing customer 0345 numbers by the end of the calendar year. Freephone numbers for Universal Credit were introduced on 29 November.

 

Benefit Enquiry Line
0345 608 8545
0800 169 0310
Jobcentre Enquiry Line
0345 604 3719
0800 169 0190
Social Fund enquiries
0345 603 6967
0800 169 0140

 

PIP Enquiries
0345 850 3322
0800 121 4433
DLA Adult and Child
0345 712 3456
0800 121 4600
One single 0800 number will replace the two existing 0345 numbers for IIDB
0345 758 5433
0345 603 1358
0800 121 8379

 

  Maternity Allowance
0800 169 0283
  Nino Allocation Unit
0800 141 2075