Universal credit pilots – early problem signs

A series of problems have been identified in the early implementation of the new universal credit system. The problems are highlighted in a report from the Department for Work and Pensions' own universal credit evaluation team, which seeks to draw lessons from local authority-led pilots of potential ways to support claimants.

Key findings

  • Many claimant groups do not have access to the internet, even though access is crucial to the new system. Local authorities report around 50-60 per cent home access only, and a lack of IT skills.
  • Many social housing tenants are reported to have problems with debt and rent arrears that might compound possible problems with personal budgeting. Local authorities have tried a number of approaches to help people with financial support: but results have been 'mixed'.
  • Local authorities have set up work access support to encourage claimants to focus on employment as a way of maximising income, using various activities and approaches: but take-up has been limited.
  • Some authorities report that existing partnership arrangements with other local agencies do not facilitate the effective joint delivery of local services. More work is needed to understand the core business and service delivery processes of each partnership agency.
  • Local authorities report that data sharing among partners is a significant problem, and that the lack of shared data is limiting their ability to identify and target particular claimant groups.

Source: Andrea Kirkpatrick, Local Authority Led Pilots: A Summary of Early Learning from the Pilots, Research Report 848, Department for Work and Pensions
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