October 2017 – Universal Credit Rolls On
New regulations have been issued in relation to the further roll-out of the universal credit full service.
These regulations provide for the universal credit full service to be rolled out between 4 October 2017 and 24 January 2018 in the postcode areas set out in the Schedule of the Order.
In addition, corresponding amendments are made in relation to the abolition of income-related employment and support allowance and income-based jobseekers allowance for claimants residing in the relevant postcode areas, and claims for housing benefit, income support or a tax credit are also prevented save in specified circumstances such as housing benefit claims are allowed for those in specified accommodation and both tax credit claims and housing benefit claims are allowed for claimants who have reached state pension credit age.
However, the Government has agreed that benefit claimants struggling to pay their bills will be able to get cash advances upfront. The Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke has said that he recognises concerns that people moving on to Universal Credit had to wait six weeks to be paid. Those needing a cash advance would get one within five days or on the same day in emergency cases. This is effectively a loan with claimants applying for a proportion of their expected award to be paid to them before their first full payment. The advance payment is automatically taken out of any subsequent Universal Credit payment over a number of months until the total amount is paid off. This has always been a part of the Universal Credit system but many people claimed they were not made aware of them.
But he said he was committed to the system and its rollout would go ahead, insisting that its rollout to more Jobcentres across the UK would continue on the present timetable, with the aim of it being fully implemented by 2022.
A dozen or so Conservative MPs have called for the rollout of Universal Credit, which merges six existing benefits into one, to be put on hold because of the financial difficulties facing people arising from the transition from weekly or fortnightly to monthly payments. Official figures show 24% of new Universal Credit claimants wait longer than six weeks to be paid in full - causing many to fall behind on rent.
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