Vulnerable groups ‘protected’ under universal credit

The government has defended its plans for the  new universal credit system, saying 'considerable effort and resource' has been committed to developing tailored arrangements that will help vulnerable claimants cope with the changes needed.

 

The government was responding to a report by a committee of MPs, published in November 2012, that expressed concerns over the potential impact of the online claims system and the proposed system of single monthly payments.

Key government points

  • Universal credit is an 'opportunity' to tackle digital exclusion, putting claimants in control of accessing and managing their benefit through digital channels. The plan is for 80 per cent of claims to be made online by 2017.
  • But other channels such as telephony and high street access will also be available, supporting online usage and keeping claimants using the universal credit online service wherever possible.
  • People will continue to be supported in interacting with the government even if they are unable to access services online. Claimants will have the option to claim over the phone or in person, and in exceptional circumstances home visits will be available.
  • Paying benefit monthly will help smooth the transition into paid work, encourage personal responsibility for finances and support claimants to budget on a monthly basis.
  • The government accepts that for a minority of claimants alternative payment arrangements may be required in addition to personal budgeting support. There is therefore provision for the frequency of payment to be varied where appropriate. The government will 'proactively' identify those who may require alternative payment arrangements.

SourceGovernment Response to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee's Third Report: Universal Credit Implementation – Meeting the Needs of Vulnerable Claimants, Cm 8537, Department for Work and Pensions, TSO
LinksResponse | Hansard | DWP press release | Charity Times report | Inside Housing report
See alsoMPs report (November 2012)

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