The national roll-out of Universal Credit begins now, marking a monumental moment in welfare reform and the start of the journey to work for millions.
Universal Credit will be up and running across the country within weeks with more than 150 Jobcentres coming on board in the next 2 months. By this time next year it will be available in all Jobcentres.
With this roll-out more lives will be transformed as people move from welfare dependency to work.
One key element will see people accepting more personal responsibility to manage their monthly, rather than weekly income. Furthermore they will build digital and financial management capability
UC represents a cultural change, from abandoning claimants on benefits for generations to encouraging them into employment by making work pay.
When the CSJ envisaged Universal Credit we found that most people claiming benefits wanted to work but were held back by a system which did not incentivise employment. In finding a job they were often rewarded with seeing their income drop by being immediately moved off benefits.
Despite a massive redistribution programme, through tax credits, Worklessness was becoming ingrained in many parts of the country. In this context we called for a welfare system that gave those people a helping hand; that made work truly pay. We wanted to allow people to hold onto more of their benefits as they began the road to full employment rather than cutting them off with no support. UC delivers the embodiment of this principle
It will have other implications too. The digital revolution is apace and UC will finally ensure the welfare system catches up. This welcome development means it is key that claimant receive the support necessary to become digitally literate and financially capable.
UC will eventually replace six existing income-based benefits to simplify the system and reduce the amount of fraud and error which hits the current system and costs billions of pounds.
The figures already suggest that it is working. New government research has found that over a four month period UC claimants are 13 per cent more likely to have been in work than those on Jobseeker’s Allowance, and earning more money than those on Jobseeker’s Allowance,.
As the architects behind Universal Credit we at the CSJ remain convinced that once fully rolled out UC will transform lives in generations to come. The journey to work begins today.