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View from the House: Universal Credit problems are on way

PUBLISHED: 08:20 06 September 2017

Archant

Universal Credit has been available to all working age benefit claimants in Tower Hamlets since March.

Next May, it will be available to all new claimants in Newham.

In principal, Universal Credit is a good idea. It amalgamates the main working age benefits - jobseekers allowance, employment and support allowance, housing benefit, tax credits - and has the potential to make the whole system simpler. It is paid to unemployed and employed people. It makes it easier for someone who is out of work to calculate how much better off they would be for getting a job.

Universal Credit was Iain Duncan Smith’s idea, but the Coalition Government wanted above all to cut government spending. The result is that some advantages of Universal Credit have been thrown away to save money.

For example, people in work will get much less help from Universal Credit than they gt from the tax credits which Gordon Brown introduced. The amount you are entitled to depends on your wages. Details are sent automatically to DWP through the PAYE tax system. Unfortunately, this seems to be prone to errors.

The worst aspect of Universal Credit for people who are not in work is the long wait before payment. You have to wait at least six weeks after losing your job. The government assumes everyone has money in the bank but many people don’t. Too often, they are kept waiting for longer, with disastrous results.

Advice workers in Tower Hamlets already have a long list of problems. From next May, the same problems will hit us. More from Stephen

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