Universal Credit starts in the UK
Universal Credit is the biggest change to the benefits system since before the Second World War and will affect almost six million people across the UK.
The government’s new scheme to help claimants manage their welfare claims – Universal Credit begins with a very small number of new claimants in Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, but will eventually affect nearly eight million people.
It's the biggest change to the benefits system since before the Second World War and will affect almost six million people across the UK. Despite considerable welfare spending in recent years, the benefit system has trapped more people in poverty than ever before. It is anticipated Universal Credit will ensure that getting a job is the best choice for people and their families and should provide a route out of poverty and away from benefit dependency.
Six working-age benefits will be merged into one single universal credit payment which is hoped will make the claims process simpler and fairer. (see Universal Credit Article)
Government ministers have argued for some time that changes have been necessary to deal with the rising cost to the taxpayer of the welfare system and help cut the budget deficit.
Universal Credit will also attempt to make claimants more responsible by making just one payment per month into their bank account and encourage them to budget their finances more effectively. A massive complex computer system has been developed to handle the new payments system.
Trials in Oldham, Wigan and Warrington are due to start in July and from October more and more will move over to the new system when hopefully by October 2017 everyone affected will be using it.
Universal Credit is just one of many changes to the benefits system, ranging from a cap on the total value of benefits than can be claimed as well as changes in the way housing benefit and disability allowances are calculated.