Government names universal credit pathfinder
Welfare reforms that will see a range of benefits lumped together into a single payment are to be introduced in Greater Manchester and Cheshire six months ahead of national roll out.
The Department for Work and Pensions has today announced 1,500 claimants will move onto universal credit across Tameside, Oldham, Wigan and Warrington each month from April 2013.
Universal credit will combine income-related jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, income support, working tax credits, child tax credits and housing benefit. It is due to be phased in across Britain from October 2013, with new claimants moving to the system initially.
Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The early introduction of universal credit demonstrates our ongoing commitment to transforming the welfare system and will improve the lives of millions of claimants by incentivising work and making work pay.’
Welfare reform minister Lord Freud yesterday promised the introduction of universal credit ‘will not be a big bang’.
Addressing a National Housing Federation conference on welfare reform, the minister said: ‘The roll-out will be phased, intelligent and gradual over four years.’
At the conference it emerged that housing associations will be involved in the development of the IT system that will underpin universal credit. David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, said the umbrella body is working with officials in the DWP, and has offered them the opportunity to visit social landlords. This has been accepted, although the visits have not yet taken place.
Universal credit will mainly be accessed online, and Mr Orr said there was an opportunity for social landlords to use the move to the system to support work on improving digital and financial inclusion.