The universal credit programme was slimmed down from four to one site when it was launched in April 2013, bcause of technical problems. The sites that missed out are now being brought on line.
Jobseekers in Wigan are now able to make a claim to Universal Credit, with people in Oldham and Warrington being able to make claims from 29 July. The majority of claims to Universal Credit will be made online.
Universal credit will simplify the benefits system, improve work incentives and reduce fraud and error. It will replace income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; income-related Employment and Support Allowance; Income Support; Child Tax Credits; Working Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.
The Universal Credit Programme is huge, involving up to 6 million households and 19 million people. It caries a much higher risk than the troubled systems in the health service which were seriously over time and over budget. The health service programmes relied on internal users who were trained and who built up skills. Universal Credit in contrast will provide a service to a floating population of the public. All transactions will eventually be online.
Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: We are fixing the welfare system so it rewards people who want to work hard and is fair for the taxpayers who fund it.
Universal Credit is being introduced in a slow, safe and controlled manner to ensure we get this vital reform right and I’m already encouraged by its progress.
New jobseekers have successfully claimed Universal Credit online, the IT and support has worked as it should and we’re in a strong position for the next step in the roll out of Universal Credit in the pathfinder areas.
The progressive national roll-out of Universal Credit will start from October.
The first claimants to Universal Credit are single jobseekers. These Universal Credit claims will respond in real time to changes in people’s circumstances, including when people move back into work.
People who claim Universal Credit have access to support delivered by a mix of local authorities and third sector organisations to help them budget their money and get online and manage their claim online.