Councils invited to test out universal credit
The Department for Work and Pensions is inviting councils to take part in pilot schemes to support benefit claimants ahead of the roll out of universal credit.
The government is replacing a host of benefits, including jobseeker’s allowance and housing benefit, with one payment from October 2013.
The DWP and the Local Government Association have jointly issued a prospectus for councils wanting to take part in pilot projects to help residents make claims under the new system, which will eventually be delivered through an online IT system.
The 12 pilots, due to start this autumn, will focus on encouraging claimants to access online support independently, improve their money management and reducing fraud and error. Further pilots covering councils’ long-term role in the delivery of universal credit will be announced next year.
Lord David Freud, welfare reform minister, said: ‘Local authorities will have a role in supporting residents to claim universal credit and these pilots create an opportunity for councils to be at the forefront of shaping that role working with DWP and other partners.
‘Universal credit is a radical reform and we expect strong bids from councils working with local groups to help people access online services and to encourage financial independence.’
Councils have until 18 May to apply to take part in the pilots. Decisions about which authorities have been successful will be made in July.
Separate pilot schemes, to test the direct payment of benefit to claimants, have already been announced by the DWP. The year-long pilot projects, due to start in June, will test how direct payment can work while protecting landlords’ income.