To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 24 March 2020 to Question 32160, what assessment she has made of the extent to which accessibility of IT and language support resources may prevent claimants applying for universal credit; and if she will make it her policy to allow agencies to support claimants for that benefit without the need for explicit consent.
The Department is working collaboratively with stakeholders to better understand any issues with the current process of explicit consent and to explore options for improving this process. The system of explicit consent does not prohibit claimants from seeking assistance and consent can be given by a claimant, either through their online account or by telephone. This helps to ensure the security of Universal Credit, including deterring fraudsters who may seek to exploit some of our most vulnerable claimants.
Universal Credit is designed to be a 'digital-first' service, ensuring we make best use of technology to deliver a modern and effective working-age welfare system, allowing our staff to concentrate on those people who require additional support. Although the Department offers comprehensive support for claimants to use our digital service, there will be occasions when people are unable to make their claim online, so telephone applications are accepted.
Where needed, Foreign Language and British Sign Language (BSL) support will be offered to claimants who need extra support. The service for BSL can be delivered by Video Relay Service and for foreign language interpreting help is available in writing and by telephone.
Additionally, claimants can also access free telephony and web support through the Citizen's Advice Help to Claim service.