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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Universal Credit next steps: have your say

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Legislation, Stakeholders

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The end of my time as Chair of SSAC is now rapidly approaching – I stand down at the end of July. But this week’s meeting (June 20) of the Committee saw us considering perhaps the most important set of legislative proposals – in the form of draft regulations - coming to us from the Government for scrutiny in the last few years. The rollout of Universal Credit (UC) is reaching a critical point as DWP plan for the launch next year of moving all recipients of the old “legacy” benefits – mainly employment support allowance, housing benefit and tax credits – to the new integrated UC system. This so-called “managed migration” will affect around three million people.

The implementation plan for UC has changed very considerably from when the Committee scrutinised the initial regulations for the new benefit back in 2012. Rollout is now, very sensibly, much more gradual and the Committee welcomes the stated intention to “test and learn”, as well as some of the detailed changes in the policy already announced. The challenges encountered so far, and the resulting mix of successes and setbacks, have been widely publicised. But the move to full national rollout unquestionably raises those challenges to an even higher, more demanding, level.

The Committee therefore quickly concluded that we should undertake a full public consultation exercise before completing our scrutiny process – at which point we will put our advice to Ministers which they are then obliged to publish before the draft regulations are debated in Parliament. We are launching that consultation process today.

The draft regulations now include some important further developments in the detailed design of the policy - notably the requirement for all existing benefit and tax credit recipients to make a claim for UC and ensure they do so within precise timescales, plus the detail and extent of the “transitional protection” arrangements for those claimants who might otherwise see a fall in their benefit entitlement. But there are also important proposals on the delivery logistics for the rollout, and the Committee is keen for the consultation to generate input on all aspects of this package.

We recognise that the timetable for this consultation – in the run up to the main holiday season - is a challenge in itself. But we hope that providing two months for responses will allow the opportunity for interested parties in all parts of the UK to participate in the exercise.

By the time this consultation finishes I will have taken my leave from SSAC. It’s been both a privilege and a pleasure to chair the Committee since late 2011, and I am most grateful to everyone who has engaged with SSAC and enriched our work during that time. I am delighted to be handing over the role to Ian Diamond, who I’m sure will find it as rewarding and enjoyable as I have. Do please ensure that the evidence and insights Ian and the rest of the Committee have at their disposal following this consultation is as full and rich as it can be, so that they can prepare a compelling, independent, evidence based and constructive report for Ministers and Parliament on the proposals for this important next stage in the evolution of the UK social security system for people of working age.

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  1. Comment by Jeff Smith posted on

    Universal Credit is based far too much on coercion through sanctions.
    Instead of offering a more constructive approach. These sanctions have been shown to be ineffective in obtaining additional employment outcomes. They have simply resulted in considerable distress and hardship. Which the DWP has itself chosen to largely ignore. The social costs of this new system, and of the political ideology which underpins it, have been very considerable. Far in excess of any presumed and unproven benefits which the DWP claim to be able to predict.

    • Replies to Jeff Smith>

      Comment by Trevor Wood posted on

      I agree. It has now been proven by the recent study conducted by the University of York that Conditionality applied to unemployment Benefits is ineffective and counterproductive in helping people back to work, so the last thing we need is a punitive system with even more coercion, and conditions.

  2. Comment by Leo Palmer posted on

    Making people on legacy benefits make a fresh claim is putting more pressure on disabled people. Many of whom have mental health problems. It's almost impossible to get an appointment with the Citizens Advice Bereau or other agencies within the timescales givenue to make a new claim. This will lead to some of the most vulnerable people in society falling through the net, again.
    If disabled people are to be moved from ESA to UC, it needs to be done automatically. The DWP are already in receipt of the relevant information and can liaise with local authorities for information regarding housing benefit.

    • Replies to Leo Palmer>

      Comment by D Robinson posted on

      You are bang on right about the CAB!
      When I tried to make an appointment for help with an ESA appeal,
      they told me they were fully booked helping people.
      You can't blame the CAB they are dealing with sanctions, housing problems [caused by universal credit] benefit delays etc
      DWP problems are pandemic.

    • Replies to Leo Palmer>

      Comment by Marilyn Jones posted on

      Totally agree with everything you've just said. It's just to much unnecessary stress for those with mental health issues and physical illnesses. Income support to esa was automatic, obviously passing work capability assessment. All relevant information is there to make it as stress free possible.

  3. Comment by Yvonne Tullis posted on

    Don't bother rolling it out. It's not working. At all.

  4. Comment by Colin Sage posted on

    Stop this inhumane and disastrous Universal Credit it has caused more harm than good and the people who instigated it should be deeply ashamed about it .It is savage and cruel and ill conceived and the sooner it is stopped the less casualties there will be.

  5. Comment by Glynis Dobie posted on

    Scrap universal credit it’s causing hardship to the most vulnerable in our society!!!????

  6. Comment by Kerry posted on

    I am so much worse off on this system I can't afford to live.

  7. Comment by Michelle Hesler posted on

    The whole ethos of "Universal Credit" is to inflict hardship and destitution to the most vulnerable people in society. The system will actually cost more than the current system and will cruelly leave those migrated to this from other benefits without any means of support during the implementation period. This can be a minimum of 5 weeks, although the some have already waited months to receive any UC. If there must be a change, at least keep UC claimants running with previous payments before cutting them off.

  8. Comment by Amanda posted on

    This benefit is putting more and more people into debt,, it's also making people I'll,,some people are going hungry and loosing there homes because of this stupid benefit and the cap,, some people cant work and have been forced to go without because of this benefit..its a cruel and inhumane, people shouldn't have to live like this,, it's no wonder people take there own lives.

  9. Comment by David Horton posted on

    It simply isn't working nor is there any sign of it working going forward.
    Please stop throwing good money after bad,accept the reality of this fiasco and stop right now.
    Even DWP staff are against it in the main.
    Please listen to those administering it and those at the sharp end who are very often going without because of this failed system,hold your hands up,say sorry...we got it wrong and for goodness sake just stop

  10. Comment by Gillian posted on

    It's time you opened your eyes and stop this horrable benefit we are ment to b a first world country not a third world country and its not saving this country any money its costing this country more and people are suffering because you wouldn't stand up and say we got it wrong there's no harm in standing up and say we have got it wrong it makes you a better person to say you when you got it wrong yes it will cost to put thing back to how it was the old benefit system but in the long run will still save this country billions of pound come on open your eyes and fell the roseys you'd can't be that hard faced all the time look at it another way the more money it costs this new benefit the less money you have to line your pockets so listen to the price you have been given it is not working

  11. Comment by patricia irwin posted on

    Universal credit is not fit for purpose and imposes great hardship and injustice on its recipients.The period before the payment of the first amount of money is too long, causing hardship and the build up of debts. The fact that all benefits are paid together means that recipients may dip into the money that should be ring fenced for rent to buy food or pay off a 'hardship loan' needed because of the long wait for the initial payment.This can lead to evictions.
    The sanctions system within Universal credit is extreme in its severity. Sanctions of three months without payment are frequent and very often for trivial matters, where circumstances are not taken into account e.g. if a claimant is a few minutes late for an appointment because of late public transport or having to walk miles to the job centre. Sanctions have also been imposed on people attending emergencies within their families like being with a dying relative or being rushed to hospital themselves for heart failure. Even if the Job centre have been informed of these circumstances the severe sanctions have been applied. Some sanctions have been applied when the job centre have not posted the letter notifying the claimant of the appointment. It can only be concluded that sanctions are applied to meet a target set by the DWP not because the claimant deserves them.A fairer system would be a number of warnings rather than the removal of all income from a vulnerable and needy person. The fact that the majority of these sanctions are overturned on appeal shows they were unjust but the claimant still has to go through a long period with no income to launch the appeal.
    The undignified way disabled people are assessed under this system is also appalling. Why is it necessary to have a 'healthcare professional,' assess someone's fitness for work when they have evidence from a qualified doctor or consultant? Many of these assessments wrongly declare people fit for work when they are not.Universal credit may be responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths and should be halted now

  12. Comment by Gordon croft posted on

    It can be a difficult process to follow. As for example your asked to submit a “fit note” which can be misleading as there’s no other way of submitting a “unfit for work” letter signed by your dr or hospital consultant! ?
    Why not have a “unfit for work” button so you can do just that and the ability to upload that document via your camera phone?.
    Anyone working previously before having to claim this benefit be careful. As if your owed outstanding wages ensure it’s paid in full before you make your claim. As anything paid after the date of your claim is treated as “income” and you are deducted 65p per £1 for every £1 your paid.. and that’s deducted from your personal allowance! DWP policy its said.
    Have read some horror stories about the sanctions and it shouldn’t be about targets it should be about helping the most vulnerable of society not killing them off..

  13. Comment by Marie posted on

    Stop the roll out of universal credit. It’s unfair for all particularly for the self employed...The current tax credit system works and works fairly for everyone, so why stop it.. ? There are far too many flaws in this universal is destroying people’s lives..people can’t afford to pay rent, they are going to food banks. Not to mention the staff employed to deal with claimants have no idea what they are doing giving out conflicting information. People are far far worse off financially and mentally from this awful system. End this now,

  14. Comment by Kim posted on

    Scrap Universal Credit. Keep the old system.

    • Replies to Kim>

      Comment by Trevor Wood posted on

      Yes or scrap both of them, close down all the Jobcentres, scrap Working Tax Credits, and replace it all with an unconditional Universal Basic Income paid to everyone of working age whether they are working or not, say £400 per month instead of JSA or on top of your wage?

  15. Comment by callie posted on

    help people with childcare upfront costs, stop discriminating against employed by saying they cannot have a budgeting advance if they have earned more than a pittance in the last 6 months!!!! not consistent for everyone, train advisors more too many with too many case loads and nothing being done, stopping payments and making it go to a decision maker for up to 28 days what do these poor people live on etc etc

  16. Comment by adrian davies posted on

    the roll out of UC has been almost by dictate with no real learning or adaptions from the trials in the areas of the country where it placed more recipients into danger of losing homes and pushing others into homelessness due to the way the payments were set up. there are more recipients of UC in debt than ever and every time a new area joins this failed ideological travesty, there are even more joining the numbers in debt, homelessness and poverty. now there are plans afoot to move disabled unfit to work esa support group claimants into it and, with the way it works, these esa support group members will lose out on a large amount of needed monetary support. this extra money is not a perk. it is not a bonus for winning entrance to esa support group status. it is essential finance needed to cover the extra costs that tend to fall on the shoulders of the disabled and unfit to work. illness is not a holiday. illness for some is a life long torment.

    my suggestion is to NOT include anyone unfit to work within the standard UC.

    • Replies to adrian davies>

      Comment by Gordon croft posted on

      Agree totally. If they get pip or dla surely they can see that people can’t work due to their health conditions it’s stressful enough having gone through a face to face.. especially if the assessor has not been honest about things and people have had to wait over one year for a tribunal to be told they were wrong.
      Scrap this abysmal service now. It’s not universal as not everyone is universally the same.

  17. Comment by Tracey Howard-Baker posted on

    Universal Credit should be scrapped - it has been proven to cost more than the old system, has failed on every level to the point where people are DYING which is UNACCEPTABLE.

    Transferring the sick and disabled onto UC from legacy benefits is the worst idea possible. It means an immediate wait of up to 8 weeks before funds are received - for people that are already living on the breadline and have no savings to live on during the waiting period - people who rely on these funds for things like food, power, medicine and rent who will risk losing their homes, starvation and inability to pay carers or take their medication, in effect - condemning them to misery and fear - deliberately.

    It also means a huge reduction in their benefits as we know from experience that they will be forced to make a new claim either by a false F2F assessment or through DWP error - or just because they choose to 'forget' that someone is on a legacy benefit. It has already and will continue to happen - in some cases people have died or attempted to commit suicide through these tactics. Those who are implementing this awful costly flawed system should be tried for murder as that is what it is.

    Your own advisors as well as many external organisations have told you that it should be scrapped - and been ignored. You deliberately stopped keeping track of those who died or were suffering when it became obvious that UC was failing those who it was supposed to help. You have deliberately refused to implement a study into the effects these changes are having on the most vulnerable in society. You have ignored pleas from campaign groups, charities and housing organisations that UC is not only failing but causing a great deal of harm to everyone who is on it.

    The whole idea of including the sick and disabled into a system of sanctions is despicable. I am totally aghast of the actions of this government - MP's should all be hanging their head in shame.

    Yet here you are - apparently happy that your work is coming to an end and yet you have failed to listen to those that this completely unfit for purpose UC is and has affected. It does not need a public consultation costing more taxpayers money - it is OBVIOUS to ALL that it is a costly waste of time that should be scrapped completely.

  18. Comment by Nicola Morgan posted on

    Emotional, psychological and financial abuse interspersed with being forced to carry out pointless tasks.

    This is not domestic abuse this is modern 'welfare' or 'benefits'.

    It is designed to punish and ultimately cull the most vulnerable in society.

    It is a stain on our once great nation. An embarrassment.

  19. Comment by Rachel Loftus posted on

    The system is not fit for purpose. I have handed over to My Mp because of the incompetence and lack of communication between case manager.
    Not everybody has a computer and leaving people high and dry. There is limited resources in the communities for men of a certain age who do not know how to apply.
    The system is leaving people relaying on foodbanks. Disgraceful the government needs to wake up to real people And real issues.

  20. Comment by Chelses Pennells posted on

    I was better off when I was claiming UC with my partner and not working. Got myself a full time job as thought it work "pay to work" but I've ended up in more dept and more hardship then before. How can an 18 year old on minimum wage support herself and a non-working partner when bills more then double. My partner cannot find work due to a bent spine but cannot claim sick as he doesn't pass the stupid medical assessment because he can walk, how does that make sense? The amount deducted due to wages should be lower. Around 40%-50%, that would make "work pay".
    Scrap the whole system and go back to legacy benefits. That would be the right thing.

  21. Comment by J Husband posted on

    People on legacy benefits should not have to reapply, they should be moved over automatically as they were with Income Support/ Incapacity etc and there should be no waiting period for these people.Universal credit is not working and never has since its roll out, this benefit is not fit for purpose and should be abandoned before it plunges more people into devastating poverty and the death toll rises.Universal credit is a punitive regime designed to punish the poor, the working poor and the sick and disabled. It is disgusting that a modern ,rich country such as our own is causing poverty and starvation on its own people.

  22. Comment by Selina Kiran posted on

    1.having everything in one basket (all benefit paid to 1 person in a household and at the same time) doesnt allow for contingency (if money was coming from different sorces and different departments (in the case of a couple) then one could just about manage to scrimp till the next payment rather than take out a wonga loan or beg every month to family or friends if UC payment fails to arrive in the accounts on time. Not to mention control issues when one person is solely incharge of all the money in the house hold. Perhaps 1 idea could be to have joint bank accounts if you claim as a couple but still it would b better to divide it.
    2. Sanctions to harsh as you are punishing the whole family when they are doled out for slight infractions such as arriving few mins late to an appointment or even when the claiment has genuinly transgressed you are still punishing the innocent other family members who have done nothing wrong....people in prison for worse crimes still get to food/water, noone sanctions their sustenunce.
    3.the initial wait is tooooo long and the the advance payment is a joke esp when you have to give it back cutting away at the measly chunk calculated for each individual family circumstances esp since Osborne made cuts to the amount already....i wish we could get £300 for just attending the email or job centre each time like the tax free £300 a day the lords get just for sleeping or ''signing in and leaving straight away''.
    4.why is there a £16k saving threshold and therefore no claims allowed by indiviuals who have the nouse to 'save for a rainy day' and not be frivilous like some others maybe with the 'live for the now mentality' as there was no threshold for those on tax credits but more based on wage....why do rich MPs claim expenses (aka MP benefits) for duck moats and flipping their primaey residency for free work done on tneir house? Their should be means testing for rich and 'poor' MPs and no claiming for the rich obes as no one made them choose the proffesion.
    5.why is it reasonable that self employed people will be considered to be earning a min income after the first year of business even if in reality they are not? Its been proven it takes between 2-3yrs for a business to flouish unless that is you have the 'old boys network' of 'poshboys' hiring and giving preference to those who they were at school with or getting a helping hand from who their 'daddy' are.
    6.for those claiming "its too late to go back to old system" well if only 10% of the 8millions claiments have only been made to claim UC to date and tax credits HAVE NOT been completly scrapped just yet, what are you guys waiting for??????!

  23. Comment by J. Harrison posted on

    UC is more ideologically driven chequebook eugenicide against the sick and disabled and low waged - halt UC now!!.

  24. Comment by Bm posted on

    It’s doesn’t work. If you work 16 hours and you work a 5 week month then a weeks money took off you. Yet working tax credit you get paid the same all year around. Plus it isn’t enough money to live on with having to pay bedroom tax and council tax. Plus your asked to get more work which is impossible if you can’t. How it will work for career who claim cares allowance and have to look after a disability person or child for 35 hours a week

  25. Comment by Matthew Owen posted on

    Imagine if universal credit were a product. Now how popular would that product be, how much money would it make if it functioned as well as universal credit does.
    It wouldn't sell.
    It would end up in the hands of unlicensed street traders like del trotter.
    Hoping to con some poor sod into taking it on promising the earth and delivering nothing but anger and resentment.
    Well done.
    I can think of no better metaphor for the current state of the DWP.
    You are to public finance what del trotter is to the DTI.
    Absolute charlatans.

  26. Comment by KEVIN GLENNIE posted on

    UC is divisive, cruel, mental torture, not fit for purpose, expensive to implement costing more than any so-called savings ever made. It has caused homelessness, depression, it has even killed.UC persecutes and intimidates those most vulnerable, it was rolled out as a panacea of savings and has been proven time after time to be incredibly poorly thought out by people who have no idea of living on a meagre pittance, a case of doing as we say or you will be punished with sanctions. Sanctions serve no purpose other than punishment, this punishment is aimed at forcing the person involved into taking work experience with no actual pay or taking a zero hours contract that can more often than not result in NO benefit to the claimant, it only succeeds in creating an atmosphere of hate towards those that forced them into dire straights by the DWP!

  27. Comment by William posted on

    People on this benifit are worse off.more hoops for them to jump through and worry about.if you suffer from a metal illness this could push people over the edge,suicide rates would go up.stop it now.

  28. Comment by Mrs. Wiles posted on

    I wonder about charity shops, school trips, churches and other voluntary positions that stay at home mum are Involved with. Who will fill those gaps if all all forced to work.
    What about those of us who home educate our children, those children that the government school system failed.
    What about the value of MOTHERS who stay home with their children, those who don't want their kids coming home to an empty house, cold grab and go meal and no supervision.

  29. Comment by Andrea horner posted on

    Universal is not fit for purpose. It’s a cruel, medevil system, and has a forward thing (supposed) nation, the government should do better than this, and look after the poor and working people better. The government should be ashamed of its totally bonkers idea!!! Please stop this now.

  30. Comment by Ray Beale posted on

    The whole system needs scrapping, it is inhumane, unfair, causes much more stress and hardship, than is needed, and has cost many times more money than what it was supposed to save, it has been an unmitigated disaster from day one. The money wasted on failed IT systems alone, makes the whole thing a complete waste of taxpayers money.


    • Replies to Ray Beale>

      Comment by Trevor Wood posted on

      To have blown £16 Billion on Universal Credit during Austerity, and then simply write off £14 Billion as though it never existed beggars belief! As for the Hardship it has caused I can verify that usage at the foodbank where I volunteer has increased phenomenally since UC was introduced in my area last year.

  31. Comment by Abs posted on

    People have committed suicide because of this new benifet system
    The government is making vunrebal people more vunrebal putting adults and children at risk
    This is so wrong
    Please put a group of high government employe on this benifet for 12 months and see how they cope and manage to live

  32. Comment by Trevor Wood posted on

    Claiming JSA is bad enough as it is but the thought of going on to Universal Credit fills me with dread, fear and panic. It is unrealistic and impossible for anyone to spend 5 hours per day, every day, 7 days a week, nonstop, doing jobsearch. Everyone I have spoken to who is on Universal Credit I have asked how they manage to do 35 hours jobsearch and every single one of them has said "I don't, I just make it up". I don't want to be put in a position where I have to routinely lie in order to avoid starvation and destitution.

  33. Comment by Derek Brown posted on

    In a country with a growing economy, lowest rate of unemployment for forty years, and more people in work now than ever before why has food poverty and the number of people being referred to food banks risen exponentially since 2010, never peaking, never plateauing, never falling, only ever increasing hand over fist?

    If work is the bast way out of poverty, as the government maintains, during a time like this, with so many people in work and so few people unemployed surely the need for charitable food banks to support millions of citizens amongst the general population suffering food poverty should be falling like a stone?

    Why is this not the case?

    Answer: Unwise benefit caps, cuts, freezes and Universal Credit.

    Everywhere Universal Credit has been rolled out debt, despair, rent arrears and privation among the poorest and most vulnerable has metastasised like cancer. There is not one single instance where the opposite is true. Do not inflict such deliberate and pernicious misery upon millions of innocent people without rethinking and re-engineering the obviously hopelessly flawed Universal Credit benefit to make it more benign than carcinogenic.

    For the love of God do not throw more people en masse under the wheels of thisout of control juggernaut. In the name of humanity think again.

  34. Comment by lynn curtis posted on

    scrap universal credit and keep old system

  35. Comment by James Keasley posted on

    Any social security benefit that plunges the poorest and most vulnerable claimants and only the poorest and most vulnerable claimants into debt and rent arrears BY DESIGN patently has something wrong with it. Everything, form the five week (minimum) wait for assistance to the unpolicable Baron Münchhausen-like 35 hour a week work-search requirement - How on earth would a manual worker, who has never seen a QWERTY keyboard let alone used a computer before, just toddle off and invent 35-hours of work-search activity each week, every week, week after week, and keep a meticulous written record of every action taken ? - so much is wrong with Universal Credit in its current form that it is nothing short of scandalous that the government insists on rolling it out to millions of citizens without mitigating the worst aspects of the policy and making an effort to make it somewhat less bad than it is.

    Universal Credit is making things worse, much worse, for the majority of people affected by it than making things better. Every scrap of independent evidence says so and if the government thinks that getting a relatively small number of people into some kind of work slightly more quickly and keeping them in such work a little bit longer is worth the suffering and misery spawned amongst a much greater number it is on a hiding to nothing.

    Please, please, please just look at the evidence in respect to Universal Credit impartially. This is all any sane and humane person needs to do to see Universal Credit in all of its awfulness and then, if you can, try to devise some way to make it less ruinous.

    Thank you for reading these words.