I believe in a benefit system that means work pays and where people can see clearly the impact of decisions they make. That is the promise of Universal Credit. But at the moment it does not seem it is the reality. A flurry of recent media interest in the Universal Credit has shown the problems. This week on Radio 4’s Analysis Jonathon Portes looked at the DWP’s approach to Welfare Reform including the delays and the growing cost of implementing Universal Credit. On Monday, Channel 4’s Dispatches programmes focused on the local implementation – where Job Centre staff and the people claiming benefits were both finding the system difficult.
But we can’t stick with the current benefits system: it is confusing, often provides a disincentive to work and a change in circumstances can mean a bureaucratic long term loss of benefits. So we can’t stay were we are. We have to make a change.
We now know that every job centre in the country will now roll out Universal Credit in February 2015, probably for the simplest cases but lone parents won’t be far behind.
Belina is developing a new programme and network for Parents and Advisers. We will be ensuring that parents are aware of Universal Credit and what it means and we will be working with Advisers to show how best to support people as changes are introduced. We need to make it work and we need to be able to give detailed feedback where it isn’t .
The Analysis Programme can be found here
Belina’s new programme and network will be launched on the 11 December