Welsh-speaking staff shortage delays Universal Credit rollout
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.”