Martin Ford 01 October 2018

Universal Credit chief admits support is not working

The civil servant in charge of the Universal Credit rollout has admitted support for claimants has not been effective, as responsibility was handed to the charity sector.

Universal Support, the system for helping people to claim money, will be run by Citizen’s Advice rather than councils from April 2019.

In a letter to chief executives seen by The MJ, director general of the UC programme, Neil Couling, wrote: ‘It is clear that despite the hard work, the service as currently configured is not providing consistent support nationwide as the feedback from claimants, their representatives and the NAO [National Audit Office] has shown.’

Highlighting the impact on ‘vulnerable claimants’, he added: ‘I also know that many local authorities were unhappy with the referrals mechanisms and the processes involved.’

Glasgow has spent £2m on a financial and digital inclusion project as 12,000 people city residents move to the new system by the end of the year.

City Treasurer Cllr Allan Gow said: ‘I'm not prepared to simply accept the hardship and the pain that we have seen unfold elsewhere.

‘We can't roll back Universal Credit, much as I would like to. However, by investing in the resilience of our communities and our city, I believe we can dull its edge.’

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