Issues with Universal Credit need addressing

Friday, 15 June 2018 - 10:59am

Homeless Link responds to the National Audit Office’s report on the roll out of Universal Credit.

young woman at home on her sofa

On 15 June 2018, the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report that assesses the value for money of the Department for Work and Pensions' introduction of Universal Credit (UC). The report considers how the Department's plans have evolved, whether the approach works for claimants and the organisations supporting them, and the likelihood of Universal Credit achieving its aims.

The NAO concludes that Universal Credit has taken significantly longer to roll-out than intended, and that UC has not delivered value for money and it is uncertain that it ever will.

Jacqui McCluskey, Director of Policy and Communications at Homeless Link, comments:

“This new evidence highlights many of the same issues with Universal Credit that our members have experienced, and that we have been working with them to alleviate.

"That claimants have suffered financial difficulties and hardship is particularly concerning. People experiencing homelessness are unlikely to have the financial resources to support them while waiting for their first UC payment, and our members tell us that people in this situation have become reliant on foodbanks, run up huge arrears, or been served with eviction notices. Hardship payments, which must be paid back, are not suitable as they push people further into debt.

“While there are local examples of good working practices, we are also concerned that homelessness services are coming under increasing strain. Staff spend time helping individuals with UC claims, taking them away from supporting individuals to make important progress in other areas of their lives.

“Clearly improvements are needed if Universal Credit is to properly support the national strategy to end rough sleeping and the response to the Homelessness Reduction Act. As a starting point, we recommend reviewing hardship payments.

“Homeless Link will continue to provide evidence on how UC is affecting vulnerable people, and to work with the Department of Work and Pensions to bring about improvements. We’ll also work with our members to further develop partnerships between local JobCentre Plus and homelessness agencies to improve the support offered.”

The National Audit Office's full report can be found here.

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Louise Weaver

Communications manager

Louise is the communications manager at Homeless Link. Louise is currently on maternity leave. 

Telephone: 0207 840 4427
Email: louise.weaver@homelesslink.org.uk