To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate she has made of the length of the waiting time for universal credit; and what steps she is taking to increase the number of staff available to provide support for universal credit claimants during the covid-19 outbreak.
The Department is doing all we can to deal with exceptional levels of demand. Our priority is ensuring people get their benefit payments and that we can continue to support those who need them most. The Department has mobilised robust business continuity plans to ensure we can do just that.
We are already redeploying 10,000 staff from other parts of DWP and are also recruiting additional staff to assist with the processing of claims, including support from other government departments and the private sector.
We have also introduced new processes to ease pressure on waiting times for identity verification over the phone and other processes. 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.
These changes are making a real difference with at least 93% of claimants who applied for Universal Credit on 16 March receiving their first payments in full and on time.