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Universal Credit

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 31st July 2018.

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Photo of Lord Touhig Lord Touhig Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they measure the number of claimants of Universal Credit who are experiencing financial hardship; and if so, how many such claimants there are.

Photo of Baroness Buscombe Baroness Buscombe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

For many people who do experience financial difficulties, these pre-date their claim to Universal Credit. For example, in their report published on 11 July 2018, the National Federation of Arms-Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) of Social Housing providers found that of those Universal Credit households in rent arrears, 76 per cent had arrears prior to moving onto Universal Credit.

In the Universal Credit Claimant survey, published in June 2018, 4 in 10 claimants reported they were having difficulties keeping up with bills. In 2011/12 in the report “Work and the welfare system: a survey of benefits and tax credits recipients” from 2011/12, one in three main claimants said they run out of money before the end of the week/month always or most of the time, and a further third said this happens more often than not or sometimes. Both surveys are available on gov.uk.

Unlike in the legacy system, we are investing around £200 million over the Universal Credit implementation period into Universal Support to help claimants with budget management and digital support. Our work coaches work closely with claimants, ensuring they can identify any vulnerabilities such as financial hardship at an early stage. They can then tailor support according to claimants’ individual needs and help to address these issues.

We also have a system of advances and budgeting support to help people with the transition to Universal Credit. From 3 January 2018, we increased the repayment period of Universal Credit advances to 12 months, with claimants able to get up to 100 per cent of their estimated monthly entitlement upfront. These advances are available to claimants interest-free, and from July 2018, can be applied for online.

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