Confusion over universal credit

Job Centres in the region are among the first in the country to take part in the national roll out of the Government’s new Universal Credit, which began today (Monday, February 16).

Universal Credit, designed to get people into work more quickly and making it easier for them to earn more, has started in 15 areas, including Hambleton, Ryedale, Hartlepool and York.

Initially the credit, which merges six working-age benefits into one, is being rolled out only for new claims from single people who would otherwise have been eligible for jobseekers allowance, including those with existing housing benefit and working tax credit claims.

At Northallerton Job Centre today there was confusion over how it will work. One single parent, who gave her name as Julie, said she had been told nothing about it.

It could possibly be a good idea, rather than having separate benefits and dealing with different departments,” she said.

“But I have been told nothing about this, and how it will work. I want to get back to work and I am studying at the moment so if it helps me to get back to work that’s good. But information would be a big help too.”

Another 19-year-old man who is currently claiming jobseekers allowance said he was also in the dark.

 “If it is only for new claims that’s probably why,” he said. “But if it’s supposed to be coming in for everyone, no one has mentioned it to me and I haven’t heard anyone talking about it in the Job Centre.”

A pilot scheme has been tried out in the North-West, which the Government said had been a success

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said:

“The evidence shows that under Universal Credit, people move into work more quickly and earn more money, giving them increased financial security.

“It is very impressive that we have seen these results so soon and that this is having a real impact on people’s lives. This is a cultural change which will alter the landscape of work for a generation.”

But Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said no one believed the promises that the new system would work.

 “It will also take over 1,571 years to roll out universal credit to everyone at the current rate,” she said.

“Labour wants universal credit to work and we’ll call in the National Audit Office to do an immediate review of this failing programme to get a grip of the spiralling waste and delays.”

Source – Northern Echo, 16 Feb 2015

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