National Audit Office report on Universal Credit

Following the report into the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) published by the National Audit Office, Citizens Advice Stockport (CAS) has asked the four MPs across Stockport to “seek clarification from the Government” on the issues raised by the in the report.

In a letter to the four MPs, Steve Hughes – Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Stockport explained that whilst CAS was supportive of a single benefits system, they have serious concerns about the impact of the roll out on Stockport residents.

The National Audit Office report; Rolling out Universal Credit whilst noting that “the Department for Work and Pensions does not accept that UC has caused hardship among claimants”, also highlighted six key findings:

  • Eight years after work began on UC, only 10% (815,000) of the expected eventual number of claimants are on the system
  • Some 20% of those paid late – usually the more needy and complicated cases – were waiting five months or more to be paid
  • Ministers would never know if their aim of putting 200,000 extra people in employment, or saving £2.1bn in fraud and error, would work
  • Government expectations that UC would deliver £8bn of net benefits annually depended on “unproven assumptions”
    UC currently costs £699 per claim – four times as much as the government intends to spend when the systems are fully developed
  • So many changes had been made to job centres and working practices that there is no “alternative but to continue”

Full service Universal Credit is due to rollout across Stockport in November 2018 but since July 2017, CAS has supported over 130 clients who have faced issues claiming UC, highlighting that 14% of those people have needed support accessing a foodbank service.

Steve Hughes – Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Stockport said:

“Citizens Advice Stockport is supportive of a single benefits system, paid monthly which supports people out of work but we have serious conserns of the impact residents across Stockport will face when the rollout of full service Universal Credit happens in November 2018.

“I have asked our local MPs to seek clarification from the government on the action they will be taking on the issues raised by the National Audit Office report on the rollout and to seek ressruance that by the time UC full service is launched in Stockprot, issues around delayed payments will be rectified.

“The Citizens Advice service has been telling Government since rollout started that this would cause hardship on our clients and clearly, the evidence was great enough to prompt the National Audot Office to highlight it within the report.”

A copy of the letters can be found here.