As some of you may already be aware, Universal Credit is a new single payment being introduced by this Government for people who are looking for work or on a low income. Universal Credit will help claimants and their families to become more independent and will reform and simplify the benefits system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits into a single payment. I am committed to making sure it delivers this for my constituents.
Universal Credit will replace income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.
I have been contacted by constituents in the past about Universal Credit with concerns about the future of Universal Credit and what it will mean for them. I believe Universal Credit will deliver real improvements to the way benefits are paid to claimants and I welcome this.
You can read the full text of our exchange below:
Nigel Mills MP: What progress his Department has made on the roll-out of universal credit.
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith MP: We have begun the national roll-out of universal credit. Those plans are on track, and universal credit is now available in nearly 150 jobcentre areas for single claimants and in nearly 100 areas for couples and families. Universal credit will be available in over 500 jobcentre areas—seven in 10—by the end of the year, and it will be rolled out to all our 714 jobcentres next year.
Nigel Mills MP: In contrast to some reports today, the staff in the jobcentres in my constituency are looking forward to the roll-out of universal credit because they know the advantages it will bring to local jobseekers. Has my right hon. Friend made a recent assessment of the benefits of universal credit following the roll-out so far?
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith MP: We have indeed. From what I have read of the reports my hon. Friend mentions, every single point made in them is wrong and misleading. We will be making our position clear on that. The analysis that he asks for has shown that the benefits of universal credit are statistically significant. Findings now show that, compared with similar claimants on jobseeker’s allowance, universal credit claimants spend more time looking for work, enter work more quickly and spend more time in work. They also end up earning more.