Universal credit could remove help from most vulnerable

IDS has been pushing hard for welfare reform
IDS has been pushing hard for welfare reform

By Charles Maggs

The new universal credit could be inaccessible to those who need it most, according to an influential committee of MPs.

While most recipients are not expected have a problem the changes, those without internet will struggle to make claims, work and pensions committee chair Ann Begg said.

"We recognise that the new universal credit system is likely to be accessible to the majority of claimants, but we have serious concerns about how more vulnerable people will cope with the changes, especially the online claims system and the proposed single monthly payment," she said.

"Some claimants will not be able to make an online claim and others may struggle to adapt to monthly payments."

The new single payment, which will cover all benefits including housing benefit, are to be trialled in the north east next spring and rolled out nationwide in the autumn.

The committee was also concerned about housing benefit being paid directly to the tenant rather than directly to the landlord.

It recommended allowing people currently getting housing benefit paid straight to their landlord to have the option of continuing this during the trial period.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne argued the government has had plenty of time to resolve issues such as these.

"Two and a half years in the government doesn't seem to have a clue about the big questions it's got to get right," he said.

"If ministers don't wake up and get a grip soon then universal credit is going to continue its rapid descent into universal chaos, spelling disaster for millions of Britain's families."

The universal credit is one of the government's flagship welfare policies. 

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