What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a relatively new benefit which is set to replace 6 other types of benefits, including income-based JSA, income-related ESA, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
If you’re currently receiving any of these benefits, you are likely to be affected by the Universal Credit roll-out, which is set to be finalised by 2018.
What are the problems with Universal Credit?
Citizens Advice carried out some national research and highlighted some key issues with the Universal Credit roll-out. We’ll be looking into the incidence and impact of these problems on Knowsley residents.
Delays in the initial payment
Claimants are told to expect a six-week delay before receiving their initial payment, however many claimants report waiting up to four months. This resulted in people struggling to buy food, pay gas and electricity bills and led to problems paying rent.
How difficult respondents found it to pay for essential living costs whilst waiting for the first payment of Universal Credit
Confusion about how to claim
The Job Centre plus is often about whether people should be claiming Universal Credit or a legacy benefit, delaying the claiming process.
There was also a lot of confusion around applying for Council Tax Reductions, and problems accessing a computer for the online application.
Percentage of all respondents in the national research by age group whofound it difficult to find the help they needed to make an application
Structural Issues and System Errors
Claiming a few days early or late can lead to even greater delays in receiving payment, and irregular wage payment schedules can lead to the loss of hundreds of pounds worth of benefit entitlement.
Many people also reported serious I.T. problems with their claim, with all traces of their claim being deleted with no notification sent to the claimant.
Advance Payment problems
The JCP is able to offer an advance payment to those struggling to manage the 6-week delay, however this can cause further debt problems.
Problems with the claimant commitment
Many claimants with health conditions, disabilities or caring responsibilities believe these issues were not taken into account when agreeing to their job-seeking agreement.