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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure applications for universal credit are dealt with in a timely manner throughout the covid-19 outbreak.
In response to unprecedented numbers of new claims, my Department has ensured that getting benefit payments made on time is its priority. In this period we expect over 90% of UC new claimants to be paid in full and on time.
The Department has mobilised robust business continuity plans to ensure we can do just that. We have redeployed a significant number of DWP staff—about 8,000 so far—and staff from other Government Departments, about 500 so far, to process these claims, as well support from 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.
The Universal Credit system is facing extraordinary pressures exerted by the unprecedented volume of new claims, but it is standing up to this challenge. The agility of the system means that capacity can be built rapidly and this has enabled it to cope in the face of demand which would have overwhelmed the complex legacy benefit regime.