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#912155 - 25th Nov 2014 9:18am New benefit rolled out to families
Mark Online   Reading


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Registered: 9th Nov 2003
Posts: 21061
Loc: Wirral
Universal Credit: New benefit rolled out to families



The government's flagship welfare reform programme Universal Credit is being extended, with parents able to claim it for the first time.

The change will initially apply to parents in parts of north-west England.

The credit, which merges six working-age benefits into a single payment, had previously been available only to single people and couples.

It will be available in a third of job centres by Spring 2015, Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said.

He said the new benefit restored "fairness to the system".

The universal credit system merges six working-age benefits - income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, income support, child tax credit, working tax credit and housing benefit - into a single payment in a far-reaching change designed to encourage work and reduce fraud.

'Welfare revolution'
Couples with children and lone parents will now be able to claim Universal Credit worth up to 70% of childcare costs, with a monthly limit for one child of £532, and £912 for two or more children.

It is already available to single and couple claimants in over 80 job centres in England, Wales and Scotland and will be available in nearly 100 job centres by Christmas, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "Universal Credit is bringing welfare into the 21st Century by restoring fairness to the system and making work pay in a modern labour market.

"As part of our long-term economic plan, today sees the next stage of this welfare revolution brining families on-board with extra childcare support and flexibility for employers. By spring next year one in three jobcentres will be offering the new benefit."

BBC social affairs correspondent Mark Easton
Universal credit has been hailed by the government as a revolution in welfare provision, bringing together six existing benefits, including job seekers allowance and housing benefit.

But the scheme has been beset by problems - tens of millions of pounds have been written off due to technical problems and only 20,000 people are currently claiming it, rather than the one million initially envisaged by ministers.

Those who are already receiving it have been mainly single people with no housing costs, but from today parents in a small part of the north west of England will be able to apply.

If they're eligible, they'll be able to get much more extensive help with child care costs than under existing benefit rules.

The expansion to more complex cases will be a key test of universal credit's robustness, and it's IT system in particular.

The national audit office, which said in a report last year that universal credit was not achieving value for money, is due to deliver another assessment tomorrow.

line
The department also said research suggested that those on Universal Credit report that they are working more over a six-month period, and that people find the welfare reform easier to understand.

The DWP originally promised to have one million people on universal credit by April 2014, but the project has been delayed a number of times since its creation and MPs have criticised the way it has been managed.

Labour's Rachel Reeves has previously said her party would "pause" Universal Credit if it wins the next general election in 2015.

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#912202 - 25th Nov 2014 4:44pm Re: New benefit rolled out to families [Re: Mark]
GeeMeister Offline
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Registered: 4th Jan 2014
Posts: 658
Loc: Wirral
The cost of delivering Iain Duncan Smith’s troubled Universal Credit scheme is £225,000 for each person on it, it was claimed today.
The project has already cost the taxpayer £612million and has been dogged by delays and IT blunders.
Mr Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, had promised one million people would be receiving their welfare payments under the scheme by April this year.
But figures show only 2,720 claimants have been transferred onto the Universal Credit so far - a cost of £225,000 per person.
The universal credit bundles together the six main benefits - jobseeker’s allowance, income support, employment and support allowance, working tax credit, child tax credit and housing benefit - into a single payment.
In September 2103, Mr Duncan Smith told Parliament it would be delivered “on time and within budget”.
But the roll-out has been delayed three times and is now only available under a small number of pilot schemes.
The Department of Work and Pensions has had to write off £130million in IT costs and it emerged this week that the executive brought in to rescue the project, Howard Shiplee, has been off sick for a month.
Yet he continues to state everytime he is asked that everything is on time, on target and on budget!!


Edited by GeeMeister (25th Nov 2014 4:45pm)

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