The government’s timetable for universal credit is ‘ambitious’ and work needs to be done to ensure the needs of vulnerable claimants are met, the Work and Pensions Select Committee has warned, according to ‘Inside Housing’
“The Work and Pensions Select Committee has this morning published a report into the implementation of universal credit, which will replace a host of benefits with one monthly payment from October 2013.
The committee warns some households may struggle with direct monthly payment and suggests the government allows more time for a ‘proper evaluation’ of the results of its six direct payment pilots. The report recommends the Department for Work and Pensions monitors the impact of monthly payment from the start of the universal credit pathfinders in April.
The MPs voice concern about the ‘ambitious’ timetable to move to an online system and say the DWP should clarify and publish details of contingency arrangements. They suggests the DWP helps develop a smartphone application as many people use phones to access the internet.
The report also warns about the impact of universal credit arrangements on disabled people and says single payments to households could mean women lose out.
Responding to the report, David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘The government must pause in its rush to implement this major change to the benefits system for people living in social housing.
‘Otherwise it could undermine what it wants to achieve with universal credit and push people into financial hardship.’
Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: ‘Ministers risk a “told you so” moment in the future if they ignore this constructive warning that the tight timetable and sheer scale of implementation are threatening to get in the way of universal credit delivering on its promises to simplify benefits, make work pay and protect the vulnerable.’
A DWP spokesperson said: ‘We’ve been clear from the outset that we will take steps to ensure vulnerable people don’t miss out.’”