Margaret Greenwood MP sounds warning about roll out of Universal Credit full service in Wirral in November
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09 Oct 2017
At questions on work and pensions this afternoon, Margaret Greenwood MP challenged Ministers on the major problems being created by the roll out of the Universal Credit Full Service which is due to be introduced in Wirral next month.
The Universal Credit Full Service is designed for claims to be made and managed online.
From this autumn the roll out of the Full Service is being accelerated from 5 to 50 Jobcentres a month, despite reports of widespread problems such as the failure of the online system to accept certain kinds of evidence and long waits for an initial payment with delays in processing claims. Such delays add to the 6 week wait built into the design of Universal Credit.
Speaking afterwards, Margaret Greenwood highlighted how the long wait for an initial payment is leading to people turning increasingly to food banks for help or leaving them at risk of eviction as the result of building up rent arrears.
Margaret Greenwood MP said
“The Universal Credit Full Service is due to be introduced in Wirral next month and I am concerned by reports of major problems in other areas where the full service has been rolled out.
“An important report by Citizens Advice based on the experiences of their clients has pointed to the way that the wait for an initial Universal Credit payment is leading to people building up debts such as rent arrears leaving them at risk of eviction.
“According to the Trussell Trust, food bank referrals have increased at more than double the national average in areas in which the Universal Credit Full Service has been rolled out.
“The government announced last week that it would be raising awareness that Universal Credit claimants can receive an advance payment.
“However, only 1 advance payment is allowed for a new Universal Credit claim and the maximum award is 50% of the claimant's estimated benefit.
“How are advance payments really going to prevent families without savings from getting into debt while they are waiting for their first Universal Credit payment?
“The government should pause the roll out of the Universal Credit Full Service and address the problems that Universal Credit is creating.
“I will be monitoring very closely the roll out of the Universal Credit Full Service in Wirral.
"I don’t want to see people here having to spend long periods on the phone to resolve problems with their claim as has happened elsewhere.
“The social security system should prevent people having to seek help from foodbanks, rather than exacerbate the need.”