Universal Credit trial marks the start of benefits overhaul
Monday the 29th of April marked the start of Coalition state welfare reforms as the Universal Credit was introduced to Ashton-under-Lyne on a trial-basis.
An online-based benefit, Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits and shifts the annual payment plan to monthly assessments.
The benefits to be replaced by the new system are: Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, stated that the new system promises to instigate a “fundamental cultural shift” that minimises the scope for abuse or fraud.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “This benefit will change the world of work for people. It will ensure that people going back into work part-time on their way to full-time work will always be better off in work, at any hours.”
While lauding the principals behind Universal Credit, shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne, labelled its launch “a damp squib” in light of constant delays.
Mr Byrne told BBC News: “This is, I’m afraid, a very small measure, as it turns out, being delivered very late in the day, at a time when the welfare bill has gone up by over £20 billion more than forecast.”
Universal Credit will be introduced to three additional Job Centres in Oldham, Warrington and Wigan from July, while the rest of the country will see the system phased in during October.
A transition for current claimants into the new system is expected to begin in spring 2014, while total completion is set for 2017.