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One In Six New UC Claims Not Paid On Time Show Cabinet Papers

September 13, 2018

One in six new universal credit claimants are not being paid on time, cabinet papers seen by the Guardian reveal.

The shocking figure emerged hours after Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, called for the introduction of the benefit to be stopped.

A presentation given to the full cabinet on Tuesday by Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, on the progress of the universal credit rollout came with slides showing that 84% of claimants were paid on time – meaning 16% were not.

No 10 said the purpose of the cabinet meeting was to discuss “the progress that has been made by universal credit” and ministers then had held “a political discussion on the differences between the current government’s approach to welfare and that of its pre-2010 predecessor”.

Responding to the figures, Margaret Greenwood, the shadow work and pensions secretary, called for the rollout of universal credit to be paused: “Esther McVey selling as a success the fact that tens of thousands of people are still not being paid on time tells you everything you need to know about universal credit.”

Problems with the rollout of universal credit, which merges six existing benefits into one, have dogged the system since work on it started in 2010, and Welby is the latest of a string of critics to say that it should be abandoned.

He was given a standing ovation that the annual Trades Union Congress conference in Manchester on Wednesday following a strident speech in which he levelled criticism at politicians, the government and corporate bosses.

He reserved particular opprobrium for the gig economy and zero-hours contracts, saying they were nothing new, and adding: “It is the reincarnation of an ancient evil.”

When asked about universal credit following the speech, Welby said: “It was supposed to make it simpler and more efficient. It has not done that. It has left too many people worse off, putting them at risk of hunger, debt, rent arrears and food banks.

“When universal credit comes into a local area the number of people going to food banks goes up. What is clear is if they cannot get it right they need to stop rolling it out.”

Jeremy Corbyn also attacked Theresa May at prime minister’s questions over the controversial benefit, citing a highly critical National Audit Office’s report from June, which said thousands of vulnerable claimants were in hardship.

Corbyn told the Commons that universal credit was “flawed and failing” and cited the government’s own survey, which found many families were in rent arrears. “Most of us are well aware of the pain universal credit is causing when people come into our advice bureaux,” he said. “Universal credit is not making work pay, it is taking money away from families and putting more families into poverty.”

May responded that unemployment was at record lows because more people were getting into work.

Sources at the Department of Work and Pensions said that when new claims were not paid on time, about two-thirds of those claimants had had an outstanding verification issue such as providing bank statements, evidence of childcare costs or proof of rent. Other delays were caused when claimants had not signed up to job-seeking commitments required by the DWP.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Helen permalink
    September 13, 2018 7:52 am

    For the first 3 months I was not paid on time. Not due to verification but software. Food bank up 38% since coming to our area.

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