Monday, 23 May 2016

Universal Credit a positive local change in Northumberland to the way we provide welfare support

The Universal Credit is a key part of this Government’s welfare reforms, replacing six benefits with one monthly payment. It is designed to sweep away the complexities and traps of the previous system, to ensure work always pays.
We are making positive progress. Those on Universal Credit compared to the old system spend around 50% more time looking for a job, are 13% more likely to be in work, and are twice as likely to be looking to increase their hours.
I am proud that we have reached this important milestone. Universal Credit is now in all 712 jobcentres across the country for single jobseekers, giving them the right incentives to move into work. In the system Universal Credit is replacing, at certain points, for example at 16 hours of work, work simply doesn’t pay. Universal Credit ends this – as earnings increase, Universal Credit payments reduce at a steady rate, so claimants can be sure they will always be better off working and earning more.
Crucially, it also gives people the tools they need to change their lives for the better. Universal Credit claimants are given a dedicated work coach, to mentor and support people into work. And, for the first time, that work coach will stay with a person once they are in work, helping them increase their hours, earn more – and eventually move off benefits completely.
I have seen the motivation and dedication of these work coaches first hand, and the real difference they are making to people’s lives. I encourage colleagues and councillors to visit their local jobcentres to see for themselves how Universal Credit is giving people a helping hand, rather than leaving them trapped on benefits.
This is all part of a wider package to make sure people on low pay keep more of the money they earn in work: raising the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500 by 2020, doubling free childcare to 30 hours a week; and introducing the National Living Wage, which will give someone working full-time on the minimum wage a £5,000 pay rise by 2020.
There is more work to do as we continue Universal Credit’s expansion to all claimants.