Scottish Social Security Committee writes to Work and Pensions Secretary concerning problems with universal credit roll-out
The Scottish Social Security Committee has written to Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green concerning problems with the roll-out of universal credit in Scotland.
As part of their inquiry into the roll out of universal credit, Committee members have met with jobcentre staff responsible for administering the system and heard directly from people claiming universal credit, and describe some of their findings as ‘shocking’. Highlighting evidence from the meetings, and urging Mr Green to address the problems inherent in the system before universal credit is rolled-out further in Scotland, the letter identifies three broad issues –
- transitional problems when moving from universal credit ‘live’ service to ‘full’ service, including a lack of readily available fully trained DWP staff, too much reliance on third sector advice and support workers to provide support and advice, and changes to previously agreed implicit consent data sharing principles from live to full service that were not communicated and explained ahead of full service roll-out;
- systemic problems, including the built-in delay before the first payment, with an 8 to 9 week delay ‘the norm’, difficulties caused by repayable hardship payments, and expensive call charges for the universal credit helpline; and
- a need for the availability of support for vulnerable or less able claimants to be improved to recognise that not everyone has ready access to a computer.
Commenting on the letter, convener of the Social Security Committee Sandra White said –
‘We heard some shocking stories of people who are being driven to breaking point because this system simply doesn’t work for them. We hope that the evidence we heard directly from people using the system will be a wake-up call to the Secretary of State that changes need to be made before universal credit is rolled-out any further”.
For more details see Committee calls on issues with Universal Credit to be addressed from parliament.scot