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Universal Credit

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 21st April 2020.

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Photo of Jon Trickett Jon Trickett Labour, Hemsworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of trends in the level of time taken to speak to a call handler on the universal credit helpline.

Photo of Jon Trickett Jon Trickett Labour, Hemsworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she has taken to manage an increase in claims for universal credit as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Jon Trickett Jon Trickett Labour, Hemsworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the increase in universal credit claims as a result of the covid-19 outbreak has affected claim processing times.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Since mid-March we have seen a huge volume of calls to the Universal Credit helpline, with over 2 million calls on a single day at one point. We are aware that this demand has meant that some claimants were not able to get through.

People making new claims for Universal Credit no longer need to call the Department as part of the process. Once they have completed their online application we will call them if we need to check any of the information they have given us. We have also introduced new processes to ease pressure on waiting times for identity verification over the phone and other processes.

The Department’s priority is to continue to ensure those who are entitled to benefit receive the support they need at a time when new claims for Universal Credit are at an unprecedented level.

Since 16 March 2020, we have received more than 1.5 million new claims for Universal Credit. 10,000 members of staff from other parts of DWP are being redeployed to support work on new claims and we are urgently recruiting additional people to assist with the processing of claims.

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