Universal Credit is a new benefit for people of working age which will be introduced over a four year period from 2013 to 2017. It will replace existing means-tested benefits and tax credits (including income-based Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance; Income Support; Child Tax Credits; Working Tax Credits; and Housing Benefit). It is the Government’s key reform to simplify the benefits systems and to promote work and personal responsibility.
The Government’s aims for Universal Credit are to:
- Improve work incentives
- Smooth the transitions into and out of work
- Simplify the benefits system
- Reduce in-work poverty
- Reduce fraud and error.
The Welfare Reform Act 2012 which provides the underpinning legislation for Universal Credit received Royal Assent in March 2012. The implementation of the Act will require the passage of several sets of detailed Regulations, many of which were published in draft in June (and are being scrutinised by the Social Security Advisory Committee).
The Work and Pensions Committee is launching an inquiry to review the progress being made towards implementation of Universal Credit and to examine the implementation process, the proposed entitlement conditions and the future operation of the benefit.
Submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited from interested organisations and individuals on any aspect of implementation of Universal Credit.
The Committee is particularly interested in receiving evidence on the following specific areas:
- The proposed arrangements for claims and payments and the provision of support and advice for claimants, including the presumption of a predominantly online, self-service claims process; monthly payment to one person in the household; and arrangements for providing telephone and face-to-face support and independent advice for claimants who need it.
- Progress with developing the necessary IT systems to administer Universal Credit, including the real-time information (RTI) system for PAYE taxation being developed by HM Revenue & Customs.
- The proposed arrangements for the “claimant commitment”, sanctions and hardship payments.
- Changes in the income entitlement of disabled people under Universal Credit, including those who may receive less income under Universal Credit than at present.
- The impact of the changes on local authorities, including budgets, staff and support for claimants. The changes include those to Housing Benefit; the introduction of the benefit cap; and localisation of council tax support.
- The level of the earnings disregards.
- Eligibility for and operation of passported benefits.
- Impact monitoring: what the DWP’s priorities should be for monitoring the impact of the transition to Universal Credit.
The deadline for submitting written evidence is Friday 17 August 2012.