Vulnerable claimants will get personalised help with their Universal Credit claim, Ministers announced today as proposals are released outlining how people will be protected and supported as they move onto the new benefit.
A joint network of Jobcentre Plus, local authorities and other local organisations will work together, providing bespoke services to benefit claimants who might need help with their budgeting or getting online.
Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said:
Universal Credit will prepare people for the world of work by getting them to access the benefit online and budget their money in the same way people in work budget. But we know some people will need extra support to manage this, and we’re committed to ensuring that no one falls through the cracks.
We are working with local authorities and local services to determine who will need this extra help - be it money advice services, face to face support or help to get online - and how best to deliver it.
A Local Support Services Framework, which sets out the principles for that support and calls for views and feedback from potential local partners, has been published today by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Local Government Association.
Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the LGA, said:
Universal Credit represents a big change to the benefits system with different demands on how claimants manage their affairs. It makes sense to recognise that people will need help adapting to that new system, and that some will need ongoing support. The pilot areas are already showing that councils will be pivotal to drawing together the public, voluntary and private sectors to help people access benefits online, manage their finances and find work.
I am glad that the DWP and LGA have worked together to recognise that Universal Credit does not end councils’ part in the benefit system, but transforms it from a processing role to a clear focus on helping to change people’s lives.
There will be a process of making exceptions to the standard Universal Credit payments and guidance outlining who might be eligible for alternative arrangements has been shared with stakeholder organisations, MPs, Peers and the Social Security Advisory Committee today.
All cases will be considered on an individual basis, and some people in vulnerable circumstances, for example people with a history of addiction, mental health conditions, or those at risk of domestic abuse, could be eligible for alternative arrangements. In cases like these, payments direct to landlords, more frequent than monthly payments, or split payments between different household members could be considered.
Notes to Editors:
- The Local Support Services Framework is published at www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/welfare-reform/universal-credit/latest-on-universal-credit/
- Universal Credit is being designed as an online service, where people can make a claim and report changes just as they do with online banking. Around 78 per cent of working age benefit claimants already use the internet - 48 per cent of those say they log on every day - many to search for jobs online.
- We will pay Universal Credit monthly to reflect the fact that 75% of people in work are paid that way.
- Most households will pay their rent direct to the landlord.
- There will be exceptions for hard cases. Firstly we will look at a claimant’s ability to pay housing costs - in full and on time. Secondly we will consider whether monthly payments are suitable. And finally we will look at whether it’s appropriate for a split payment to be made to that household.
- The Housing Demonstration Projects will provide an insight into how the exceptions process will operate and who might be made an exception.
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