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Universal Credit: Personal Finances

Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 27th January 2020.

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Photo of Yvonne Fovargue Yvonne Fovargue Labour, Makerfield

What recent assessment her Department has made of the effect of the roll-out of universal credit on the personal finances of claimants.

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

In total, universal credit is £2 billion a year more generous than the legacy system it replaces. For those who can work, universal credit ensures people take home more of their earned income and are supported to work more hours, whereas for those who cannot work, the higher disability element is more generous, meaning that 1 million disabled claimants will gain, on average, £100 a month.

Photo of Yvonne Fovargue Yvonne Fovargue Labour, Makerfield

Last week, a report from the debt charity StepChange found that 65% of clients said that universal credit had made it harder for them to budget and manage their finances. Given the DWP’s oversight of the UK financial wellbeing strategy, what will the Department do to ensure that universal credit helps people to recover from debt and does not make the problem worse?

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

I know that the hon. Lady has focused on this issue for a lot of her professional career, as well as for a lot of her parliamentary career. We do important work through the Money and Pensions Service to make debt advice available, and that is an important avenue to which people can be referred. We also work closely with Citizens Advice on the Help to Claim service, to help to provide that alternative holistic approach for which we fund the CAB.