Press release

Universal Credit: First year of welfare transformation and north west next steps

The expansion of the full Universal Credit benefit to the rest of the north west of England will start in June.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Universal Credit: First year of welfare transformation and north west next steps:

  • Jobcentres in the north west of England to start claims for new benefit
  • new benefit to open to couples
  • Claimant Commitment now rolled out to all British Jobcentres
  • 26,300 members of staff trained as work coaches
  • 10 sites in Britain now accepting Universal Credit claims

The expansion of the full Universal Credit benefit to the rest of the north west of England will start in June, it was announced today (29 April 2014).

Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud set out plans for the next steps of Universal Credit – marking the first anniversary of the full new benefit becoming available.

Universal Credit has a number of elements which have already been rolled out across the country, including a claimant commitment, where jobseekers agree:

  • what they will do to find work
  • an expectation that jobseekers search for work 35 hours a week
  • more equipment for jobseekers to search for work online
  • a transformation in the relationship between claimants and their jobcentre adviser to focus their search for work

On top of that, claimants in 10 parts of the country are also benefiting from the better work incentives of the full benefit. This ensures work pays, allows them to move in and out of work more smoothly, and gives jobcentres instant access to HMRC earnings data so they can make sure people are receiving the right amount of benefit.

In a step change, from June more jobcentres across the north west of England will gradually come online each week until the whole region is covered. In total 90 jobcentres, or 1 in 8 jobcentres in Britain, will offer the full Universal Credit once the north west expansion is completed.

During the summer the new benefit will also be made available for new claims from couples in a number of jobcentres that already deliver the full Universal Credit, expanding to all the current live sites over time.

Lord Freud said:

Universal Credit is changing lives. We are seeing claimants move smoothly into work, safe in the knowledge that support from Universal Credit remains with them.

We now have ten sites successfully running Universal Credit in England, Scotland and Wales and the next step is to open the new benefit to claimants across the north west – as part of our safe and secure roll-out.

Universal Credit is helping to ensure that work pays and is part of the government’s long-term plan to get more people into work and off benefits.

Universal Credit will bring £35 billion of benefits to the economy when fully rolled out – helping hundreds of thousands of people into work.

The first year of Universal Credit has seen a series of major achievements in reforms to the welfare state:

  • Universal Credit is available in 10 sites across Britain
  • thousands of claimants benefiting from an easier single benefit payment sticking with them as they move into work – rather than the current mixture of 6 in and out of work benefits
  • the Claimant Commitment is now in place in all British jobcentres
  • 26,300 members of staff have been trained to provide job coaching, expert help and advice to encourage and motivate claimants in their search for work
  • over 600,000 Claimant Commitments have been signed – resetting the relationship between benefit claimants and Jobcentre Plus help
  • the roll-out of digital jobcentres will be complete by Autumn – placing wi-fi and computers in all jobcentres


Full details of the first Jobcentres outside the Pathfinder areas to start offering Universal Credit in the north west of England and the timetable for the expansion will be announced shortly.

We are currently in discussion with the following 12 local authorities to be at the forefront of this next stage of expansion:

  • Salford City Council
  • Wirral Borough Council
  • Preston City Council
  • St Helens Borough Council
  • Cheshire East Council
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council
  • Trafford Borough Council
  • Bolton Borough Council
  • Bury Borough Council
  • South Ribble Borough Council
  • Sefton Borough Council
  • Knowsley Borough Council

We continue to work closely with the 4 existing Universal Credit Local Authorities:

  • Wigan
  • Warrington
  • Tameside
  • Oldham.

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Published 29 April 2014