I am committed to making sure that families get the right support that they need to get on and improve their lives. Universal Credit lies at the heart of this by helping those who can work into work, while caring for those who cannot. And it is working because Universal Credit claimants are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system.
Universal Credit replaces the six main out-of-work benefits with one monthly payment. It’s available to all single new jobseekers across the country and from yesterday it has opened up to families, couples and disabled people in Truro who make a new claim for a working-age benefit. It will be available throughout Cornwall in the following weeks.
I understand how being unemployed or asking for help can be a worrying time. That’s why I want reassure people in Truro about the support they can get under Universal Credit, and how our local Jobcentre work coaches are there to help.
Universal Credit is changing the culture of welfare support by mirroring the world of work. It is paid in arrears as a monthly single payment directly into people’s accounts in the way that many people’s salaries are. It gradually reduces the more someone earns; meaning people experience the financial gains of doing any paid employment, which frequently did not happen under the old system because of its perverse disincentives to taking up more work, like the 16-hour rule.
Universal Credit is a digitalised service, as one would expect today. Claimants who are looking for work continue to get face-to-face support from their work coach at their local Jobcentre. But more than that, every claimant also has a case manager who helps with the day-to-day practicalities of their claim, and communicates through two-way conversations via an online Universal Credit journal, by text message, email, and over the telephone.
The majority of people are comfortable with managing their Universal Credit claim, but we understand that for some people it is a big change and they will need extra help.
For people who need support before their first payment, advance payments of 100% are available up front and are paid within five working days and on the first day if necessary. We also continue to pay people’s housing benefit for two weeks when they make a claim to Universal Credit. And arrangements can be made to pay rent direct to landlords.
Our Jobcentre work coaches are there to provide support to help people move back into work, and any extra help people need with their Universal Credit claim.
First published in the West Briton 24/08/18