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CPAG Update: National Audit Office Report on Universal Credit


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The government’s flagship benefits system has been too slow to roll out, causes hardship, and is not delivering value for money, the National Audit Office has warned.

The National Audit Office said the £1.9bn Universal Credit system could end up costing more to administer than the benefits system it is replacing.

Some claimants waited eight months for payment amid the switch to UC, which rolls six benefits into one, it adds.

The government said UC would bring a £34bn return over 10 years.

It said more people would get into work – and stay there longer – and that it had taken a “listen and learn” approach to the introduction of the programme. The move to UC has long been criticised for its delayed and flawed implementation, with about 25% (113,000) of new claims in 2017 being paid late.

Child poverty is rising in the UK. This is because of, among other things, the high cost of living, inadequate wages and an insufficient social security system. You may be facing one or more of these challenges, as many families are.

For several years, the government has been overhauling social security. The biggest change to the system has been the introduction of universal credit – which will replace six benefits and tax credits when it’s fully rolled out. You may have seen that today the National Audit Office has released a damning report about universal credit, finding that the Department for Work and Pensions hasn’t listened to the hardship faced by claimants, it can’t demonstrate the effect of universal credit on employment, and universal credit may not save the government any money. The head of the NAO questioned the commitment of the DWP to listening and responding to the evident hardship faced by people claiming universal credit, which includes a rapid increase in use of foodbanks.
Read the report
We fed into the NAO’s research, using evidence from our Early Warning System. This collects cases about how families are affected by universal credit so that we can provide evidence to the government and push for improvements. If you’d like to know more about what we’re finding out, you can sign up to hear about our Early Warning System:
Sign up here

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