To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what analysis she has undertaken on the effectiveness of the new functionality outlined in the Universal Credit Programme Board minutes from the meeting held on 18 May 2017, that focused on early identification of universal credit claimants who may have complex needs.
The application process for Universal Credit is designed to be as quick and easy as possible so that that claimants receive money at the earliest opportunity. It is a predominantly digital 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. But the Department recognises and continuously evaluates the need to support vulnerable claimants. The Universal Credit system provides for complex needs to be recorded in a way which supports staff working on that claim to the particular circumstances of the individual.
The Department offers comprehensive support for claimants to use our digital service, but for those unable to make or maintain their claim online, telephone support is available. In these instances, information normally available through a claimant’s online account will be communicated through the most suitable alternative format.
Work Coaches receive training to support claimants with complex needs, including those with special needs or disabilities, and have access to guidance and locally-tailored specialist support for those whom they are helping move into, or stay in work.
In addition, the Department funds Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland to deliver ‘Help to Claim’ which provides tailored, practical support to claimants making a Universal Credit claim and is available across Great Britain. Claimants can access this support through self-referral, or may be directed towards or referred to the service by DWP or other support agencies.
We work closely with a range of partner organisations to ensure ‘wrap around support’ for people on Universal Credit. Some have ‘trusted partner’ status, for example social landlords, and others are learning and support organisations that provide products and services for people on Universal Credit.