The Department for Work and Pensions released operational details on the early roll-out of Universal Credit today, confirming that the new benefit would start early in the Manchester and Cheshire areas from the end of April, before progressively rolling out nationally from October.
Ashton-under-Lyne will be the first Jobcentre to accept claims for Universal Credit from 29 April. Wigan, Warrington and Oldham jobcentres will first trial the new claimant commitment and will take claims for Universal Credit beginning in July, informed by the early testing in Ashton-under-Lyne.
This controlled approach will mean that Jobcentres intensively test the new system as it rolls out - ensuring that claimants are protected throughout.
Each of the four job centres involved in the early roll-out will be testing a range of activities to prepare for Universal Credit from April including:
- trialling the new claimant commitment
- ensuring all new JSA and UC claimants are automatically signed on to Universal Jobmatch
- introducing a new fortnightly job search trial to make sure people are meeting the terms of their claimant commitment
- and installing more internet access points to help people make their claims.
A new network of UC staff ambassadors across all Pathfinder sites will also help claimants and partner organisations to prepare for the introduction of Universal Credit.