Universal Credit: Darlington

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 17th September 2020.

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Photo of Peter Gibson Peter Gibson Conservative, Darlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support people transitioning from legacy benefits to universal credit in Darlington constituency.

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

We currently spend over £95 billion a year on working age benefits including Universal Credit and remain committed to supporting the most vulnerable in society.

Recent changes to Universal Credit include temporarily increasing the standard allowance by up to £1,040 per year and increasing the Local Housing Allowance rates, including the Shared Accommodation element, so that it covers the lowest 30% of local market rents benefiting over one million households by £600 a year on average.

The Department has delivered a number of improvements to support claimants during their first assessment period, such as removing waiting days and paying those claimants moving from Housing Benefit on to Universal Credit a two week ‘transitional housing payment’. Since July 2020, an additional two-week run has been introduced to assist eligible claimants moving from Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance (IR) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (IB). Advance payments are available so nobody has to wait five weeks for payment.

We are also doubling the number of work coaches across our network of jobcentres, from 13,500 to 27,000, so that every jobseeker receives tailored support to get back on their feet, build skills and move into work

We recognise that some people will need extra help to successfully establish a claim to Universal Credit. Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland, have supported in excess of 250,000 individuals through ‘Help to Claim’ since April 2019, offering tailored and practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim and up to receiving their first full correct payment on time. ‘Help to Claim’ is funded by the Department and is available online, on the phone and face-to-face in locations including Jobcentres and Citizen’s Advice offices.

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