Welsh-speak­ing staff short­age de­lays Uni­ver­sal Credit roll­out

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS -

CON­TRO­VER­SIAL plans to in­tro­duce changes to the ben­e­fits sys­tem are be­ing de­layed be­cause of prob­lems pro­vid­ing the ser­vice in Welsh, an MP has claimed.

The in­tro­duc­tion of the Uni­ver­sal Credit scheme is to be de­layed by six months in parts of Wales, in­clud­ing in Gwynedd and An­gle­sey which are pre­dom­i­nantly Welsh speak­ing ar­eas.

Hy­wel Wil­liams, MP for Ar­fon, said that prob­lems in pro­vid­ing Welsh speak­ing staff have caused the de­lays. The Depart­ment of Work and Pen­sions (DWP) says the in­tro­duc­tion of the scheme, which is in­tended to sim­plify the ben­e­fits sys­tem, will be put back to De­cem­ber in­stead of June in 13 ar­eas of Wales. ●

In North Wales, job cen­tres in Holy­head, Amlwch, Llangefni, Ban­gor, Caernar­fon, Dol­gel­lau, Porth­madog and, Pwll­heli will see de­lays. Mr Wil­liams said: “If Uni­ver­sal Credit is all it’s cracked up to be, then why is the DWP deny­ing Welsh speak­ers their full rights to take ad­van­tage of it? The DWP had am­ple op­por­tu­nity to make pro­vi­sions for Welsh lan­guage speak­ers through­out Wales but have sin­gu­larly failed to do so. I have raised this is­sue in the House and in the press and vis­ited the DWP team do­ing their best to roll out an on­line Welsh lan­guage ser­vice for Uni­ver­sal Credit claimants. The is­sue at that time was that the soft­ware be­ing used was in English only.

“I was told there were great dif­fi­cul­ties in­cor­po­rat­ing Welsh as a lan­guage op­tion. This all smacked of the Welsh lan­guage once again be­ing treated as a bolt-on-ex­tra.”

A DWP spokesper­son said: “We con­tinue to roll out Uni­ver­sal Credit in a safe and con­trolled way and the ex­pected com­ple­tion date re­mains the same. Any changes to the roll­out sched­ule are care­fully con­sid­ered and al­low us to work as ef­fec­tively as pos­si­ble with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and stake­hold­ers to de­liver Uni­ver­sal Credit.”

Hy­wel Wil­liams

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