Universal Credit Recipients

Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 23rd January 2023.

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Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford

What steps he is taking to support people in receipt of universal credit with increasing (a) their level of pay and (b) access to one-on-one appointments with a work coach.

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

We want people to work more, and ideally come off benefits—as we all know, UC progression means that work always pays more. To enable that, we have created in-work progression support that provides over 1.6 million more claimants with access to work support.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford

In Chelmsford and across Essex, job coaches have been running a new initiative to support working people on universal credit to gain more income, which is proving highly successful. Many people have been supported to increase their skills and therefore their hourly pay rate; other people who were working part time have increased their hours. May I urge the Government to first, provide more out-of-hours training for those in work; secondly, offer more discretionary spending to enable those in work to attend those training courses; and thirdly, help to roll out the lessons learned from Essex across the country?

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

It is true that Essex is a pioneer of our in-work progression offer; I spoke to one of the job coaches doing that in Essex only this morning. We are recruiting senior district progression leads who will work with local skills providers to ensure that there is appropriate training for in-work claimants. Bluntly, the Essex profile, along with the other volunteer organisations, will be going out to the entire country by the end of March 2023.

Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Independent, Rutherglen and Hamilton West

With the DWP struggling to recruit in under-resourced areas such as personal independence payments and child maintenance, and huge take-up of voluntary redundancy in regional offices, how will Ministers ensure the Department’s ability to support the public is not endangered further?

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

It is our intention to have jobs fairs, sector-based work academies and local recruitment on an ongoing basis. I am happy to discuss with the hon. Lady, whom I have worked with many times in the past, how we can do things in her patch.