A report on Universal Credit

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Universal Credit has published a detailed report on Universal Credit, including something in the region of 50 reasonable proposals to help the system work better.  The group has notable expertise in the field, and there is no recommendation I wouldn’t agree with, but I don’t think it goes anything like far enough.  The fundamental design flaw, which they point to at the outset, is this:

many claimants say they cannot understand how their UC is worked out, and it is subject to so many variations that it is far harder to budget on UC that it was on tax credits.

That instability of income is built in to the system.  Some of the fluctuations would be damped down by the group’s proposals, including modifications to work allowances, a review of the treatment of self-employed people and 53-week years, but they would not prevent the wild fluctuations in the amounts being paid month by month. To stop that happening, the system needs

(a) to make payments on a uniform date, rather than a personalised one which varies with weekends and bank holidays;

(b) routinely to make rental payments direct to landlords, as Housing Benefit did; and

(a) to relate entitlement to a preceding period, rather than the current one.  As this report says,

This mismatch of pay cycles and assessment periods and the ‘whole-month’ approach to changes of circumstances, can leave people struggling to budget with unpredictable and arbitrary awards.

 

3 thoughts on “A report on Universal Credit”

  1. Most of the “design flaws” were identified at the outset but government persisted. Even Scot Gov thinks that individual claimants should have right to choose whether they want housing element paid to claimant or to landlord. I don’t understand this “choice logic” as it is tax-payer’s money with one purpose; i.e. to go towards the claimant’s eligible rental liability and nothing else. Why not pay Council Tax Reduction to the claimant; or have power companies give Warm Home Discount as cash to customers and then let customer decide whether to pay utility bill etc etc? The UC saga continues and will of course be inextricably linked with the politics and personalities of the “new” UK Cabinet?

    1. Yesterday (23.7.19) whilst most of the world was waiting for BJ to be announced as new Tory leader/PM, I spent some time at a busy Food Bank/combined with Church café, in Glasgow. It was busy with lots of folks enjoying a cooked meal, prepared by church volunteers and it didn’t feel too much like a Food Bank because of the general activity. We even had a birthday celebration for a young boy. I shared a table with a woman struggling on UC and with multiple issues to sort out. Events in Westminster won’t make any difference to her; survival is the main deal. Food Banks have a busy summer ahead.

  2. the discrimination to young families under 25 through UC is so sad nothing can be cheaper for them not food, bills, housing, nappies, etc The work allowance needs to be higher – 50p instead of 63p taken out of every pound earned. Council tax and costs to get to and from low paid jobs also need to be assessed as payments that have to be paid out – TO MAKE WORK PAY STOP THE FREEZE ON WORKING BENEFITS.

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