Statement from Secretary of State, David Gauke MP and Richard Harrington MP:
From this week, more people in Watford and Three Rivers will be able to move onto Universal Credit. We visited the dedicated staff at Watford Jobcentre Plus on Wednesday and we want people to understand how our flagship new welfare reform can support them.
Universal Credit is already available to all new single jobseekers across the country and it is now opening up to all new claimants, including families and people with children, as we roll out the Universal Credit Full Service here.
It is the bedrock of our welfare reforms to ensure we have a stronger economy and a fairer society. That means having the right support in place for jobseekers, and of course proper care in place for people who cannot work.
It is still early days in the transformation of our welfare system, but we are already seeing its benefits.
Under Universal Credit, jobseekers are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than the old system. People also get unprecedented support from a dedicated work coach, as well as being able to claim back up to 85% of their childcare costs when they move in to work.
There is broad agreement that the old out-dated system was not fit for purpose because it trapped people into a cycle of benefits dependency. And we have listened to recent issues raised around the transition onto Universal Credit.
That’s why in the Budget last month, the Chancellor set out a £1.5bn package of important changes to improve support for people while they transition onto Universal Credit.
This comprehensive package includes removing the seven-day waiting period to reduce the time people have to wait for their first payment, allowing people to receive 100% of their payment upfront if they need it, and extending the time they need to repay this advance payment from 6 to 12 months.
What’s more, anyone in receipt of Housing Benefit who moves onto Universal Credit will continue to have their rent paid for two weeks during the wait for their first payment.
Universal Credit is a long overdue cultural transformation of the welfare system. It gives meaningful support to help people improve their lives, so everyone can feel the benefits as we create a country that works for all, not just the privileged few.