Ministers today (10 July 2013) set out the next stage of the roll out for Universal Credit following the successful launch in April.
Universal Credit is one of the most fundamental reforms to the welfare system since 1943, and will roll 6 benefits and tax credits into 1 to simplify the system and ensure people are better off in work. It is currently being tested in 2 areas of the north-west, with another 2 starting later this month.
The national roll out will be comprised of 3 strands. Expanding on the early approach, another 6 Jobcentres will begin to take new claims to the benefit on a roll out programme from October, continuing the safe and well tested approach to reform delivery. This plan means Universal Credit will be rolling out in areas of England, Wales and Scotland.
At the same time, the other components of Universal Credit that will support the cultural transformation that the benefit will bring, such as the Claimant Commitment, and enhanced jobsearch support will roll out across the country, training 20,000 Jobcentre Plus advisers to achieve this. Ten in-work conditionality pilots will test how to best encourage claimants to progress in work.
Alongside this, improved access to digital services will expand across the Jobcentre Plus network.
The Pathfinder exercise has shown that the IT system works underpinned by the Real Time Information system. But, in parallel, after asking major projects expert David Pitchford to review it earlier this year, ministers have accepted his recommendation that they should explore enhancing the IT for Universal Credit working with the Government Digital Service. Advancements in technology since the current system was developed have meant that a more responsive system that is more flexible and secure could potentially be built.
This would marry with the best of the existing system – which has proved viable during Pathfinder testing. Any enhanced IT solution will need to be both cost effective and deliverable to original timescales.
The government has made clear that the priority is to deliver Universal Credit over a 4-year period to 2017 and within budget. We remain committed to this objective. Further details on development plans will be outlined in the autumn.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said:
Today we’ve announced the next stage of delivery for Universal Credit, following the successful start of the early roll out in April.
I am pleased to say that while we press ahead with delivery, we are also ensuring that we have the best long-term approach in place for this transformative benefit.
I’m determined to get this right and will not follow the old ways of governing – launching with a big bang and having to clear up the mess afterwards. I will bring in this radical reform safely, and I’m committed to doing it by 2017 and to budget.
Universal Credit will expand to 6 new Jobcentres starting from October 2013. The following Jobcentres will be included:
The Claimant Commitment will also roll out to all Jobcentres from October with all Jobcentres moving to the new universal commitment regime.
Access to digital services will be improved so that jobseekers will become used to claiming their benefit online. Across Jobcentres 6,000 new computers will be installed for claimants to use. This will offer support and training for claimants.
Media enquiries for this press release 0203 267 5130
Follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/dwppressoffice