Universal Credit: Advance Payments

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th November 2017.

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Photo of David Morris David Morris Conservative, Morecambe and Lunesdale 12:00 am, 13th November 2017

What estimate he has made of the number of claimants applying for universal credit advance payments.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The answer is about half. We are working to further improve awareness and access to this support.

Photo of David Morris David Morris Conservative, Morecambe and Lunesdale

I am keen to ensure that advance payments are made to my constituents in need, which is why I see the jobcentre and the citizens advice bureau, one after the other, every month. Does the Minister agree that the Labour party should start acting responsibly and join me in encouraging constituents to apply for this additional help, and tone down the political rhetoric, which could deter vulnerable people from applying in the first place?

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

I do. My hon. Friend knows, and the Labour party should acknowledge, that no one need go without money while they wait for their first regular payment. Labour should not try to put people off accessing the support that is there for them.

Photo of Ruth George Ruth George Labour, High Peak

Today is exactly six weeks until Christmas day. Anyone who applies for universal credit today will have to make do on just two weeks of universal credit payments until after Christmas. What assessment has the Minister made of the impact on such families and their ability to let their children enjoy Christmas?

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

Our record on the timeliness of universal credit payments has improved markedly and, as the hon. Lady knows, advances are also available. I should also say that in the run-up to Christmas, when many temporary work opportunities are available, universal credit works much better for people, because they are able to access those opportunities, particularly on the verge of the festive season.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

How much longer can a claimant spend looking for a job on universal credit?

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Very well: we have heard the right hon. Gentleman on Question 14, although he did not seek agreement to that proposition. He simply blurted it out, but we will accept that on this occasion.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

We know that people on universal credit spend a great deal more time looking for work than others, and that they apply for a wider range of jobs and consider jobs that they may not have considered before. All that is part of why it involves significantly better labour market outcomes, and why people are more likely to be in work after six months than they were on the old benefits.