Universal Credit: First Payments

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Duchy of Lancaster)

What steps she is taking to reduce the time taken for universal credit claimants to receive their first payment.

Photo of Lisa Forbes Lisa Forbes Labour, Peterborough

What progress her Department is making on improving the timeliness of initial payments of universal credit.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Universal credit payment timeliness continues to improve and is near a record high, with the most recent data showing we paid 83% of new claims in full and on time.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Duchy of Lancaster)

Can I thank the Secretary of State for saving herself to answer my question? I welcome that. She will know that the five-week delay is still causing huge harm, so could I ask her what effort the DWP is making to ensure that UC recipients are not penalised by other organisations for the five-week gap in their incomes, and what extra support can the Government give to organisations that support universal credit recipients with financial management during this very difficult period?

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

It is important to recognise the help to claim—I think it is £39 million of support—that has been given through the citizens advice bureaux to try to help people who may not always be there with the paperwork that is required, so we are making best efforts so that people can make the right claims so they can be paid on time. As regards other elements, of course the advance is available, which can then be repaid over a 12-month period.

Photo of Lisa Forbes Lisa Forbes Labour, Peterborough

With former Thomas Cook employees being offered food bank vouchers by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Trussell Trust in Peterborough reporting a 50% increase in the number of food parcels given to my constituents in the last year alone, can the Secretary of State tell us what impact she thinks the collapse of Thomas Cook will have on these figures?

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The hon. Lady was at our first taskforce, and I am sure she will be impressed with the work that we have already been doing together, including the jobs fair that happened last Thursday. It is important, and we have seen this with Thomas Cook ex-employees, that they make a universal credit claim—some of them have —quickly so they can get the support that they need. I welcome, actually, the support that is given through the Trussell Trust in order to help people in this difficult time, but the sooner people come into Jobcentre Plus and start claiming universal credit, the sooner we can help.

Photo of Margaret Greenwood Margaret Greenwood Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Without giving this House a debate or a vote, as they had promised, the Government have pushed through regulations for the pilot of universal credit managed migration and payments to severely disabled people who lost out in being forced to transfer to universal credit. Will the Government explain why those payments still do not fully reflect the financial loss those disabled people have suffered?

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

There is an extra £600 million of support going to the most vulnerable. I really do want to encourage the Opposition to withdraw their early-day motion, because if they succeed in praying against this, they are hitting the most vulnerable people, and I am sure that is not something that they wish to be remembered for.