An investigation into universal credit published today echoes many of the fears raised by PCS. A report from the work and pensions select committee makes a number of crucial points about the much-criticised welfare benefit that will condense half a doz …

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An investigation into universal credit published today echoes many of the fears raised by PCS.

A report from the work and pensions select committee makes a number of crucial points about the much-criticised welfare benefit that will condense half a dozen benefits and tax credits into one.

The report agrees with the union when it states:

• Significant further work must be carried out to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable claimants are met
• Some people need face-to-face support and it is very unclear how universal credit will be delivered for those unable to make an online claim
• There is scepticism about the government’s ambitious time line for development of the IT system
• Monthly payments are seriously problematic
• There is a need to ring-fence money for the social fund (crucial as a safety net for those in need) or the vulnerable will be affected
• Sanctions and conditionality are ineffective. The committee even commented from the PCS submission that sanctions have proven to be an ineffective way of helping to support people into work.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Universal credit is yet another example of the government’s unjust welfare reform policies. We do not believe enough time has been taken to develop its systems and there is great potential for thousands of people to lose out because of the change in the universal credit’s systems.

“The digital divide risks alienating the poor even more and will make it more difficult for those on low incomes and the vulnerable to access the benefits to which they are entitled.”

* UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Universal Credit represents the biggest welfare shake-up since 1945, and will affect eight million households and 19 million people. UNISON has consistently argued the public’s right to expect a quality service, and that this would be best achieved by putting the skills, experience and knowledge of those already involved in delivering housing benefits to use in introducing this new system.

“This report from the Select Committee, and the call for a clear statement on service delivery arrangements presents an opportunity for the DWP to look again at this issue, and bring an end to the uncertainty of thousands of families. We are willing to work constructively with the Department to put in place the integrated service delivery model that we believe can deliver the quality of service the public deserves.”


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