Headlines: November 25th, 2014

The government’s flagship welfare reform, Universal Credit, which has encountered leadership and technical problems, is now recovering some of the time lost in the last 3 years. By Spring 2015 one in three of the country’s jobcentres will be taking claims for the new benefit. The timetable has slipped by 2 years and full implementation is now expected in 2019.

As part of the Government’s long-term economic plan, Universal Credit merges six benefits in to one and simplifies the system so the claimants can see they will always be better off in work and off benefits.

From today, Universal Credit is being opened up to families– couples with children and lone parents – following the successful rollout to individuals and couples.

Support worth up to 70 per cent of childcare costs will be available regardless of hours worked– in addition to the money they get to help with the costs of bringing up a child. This means that for the first time, parents will receive support for childcare costs under Universal Credit, no matter how many hours they work – giving them more flexibility to work and earn more money.

And because of an extra £400 million the Government is investing in childcare, by 2016 this will be increased to 85%, with a monthly limit of £646 for one child and £1108 for two or more children.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said:
“The welfare system we inherited was broken, trapping the very people it was meant to help into cycles of worklessness and welfare dependency. Universal Credit is bringing welfare into the 21st Century by restoring fairness to the system and making work pay in a modern labour market.

“We’ve already seen remarkable successes, with Universal Credit claimants moving into work faster and staying in work longer. As part of our long-term economic plan, today sees the next stage of this welfare revolution brining families on-board with extra childcare support and flexibility for employers. By spring next year 1 in 3 jobcentres will be offering the new benefit.”

Claims from families had started in the North West with six jobcentres going live yesterday (24 November) with the rest of the nearly 100 Jobcentres going live early next year.

Working families on Universal Credit can claim back 70 per cent of the money they’ve paid out for childcare, with a monthly limit for one child of £532 and £912 for two or more children.

The Secretary of State announced in September that he would accelerate roll out nationwide to Jobcentres from February 2015.
It is already available to single and couple claimants in over 80 Jobcentres in England, Wales and Scotland and will be available in nearly 100 Jobcentres by Christmas.

Universal Credit is already making a difference, recent research showed that claimants do more to find work and know that working more pays. Those who are on Universal Credit report that they are working more over a 6-month period – 69 per cent under Universal Credit, compared with 65 per cent under Jobseeker’s Allowance
65 per cent of people finding Universal Credit a better financial incentive to work.

People find Universal Credit easier to understand and consider it is a better reward for additional work.