‘Uni­ver­sal Credit means sig­nif­i­cant num­ber will lose’

Of­fi­cial con­firms some will be worse off

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS - BY KATRINE BUSSEY

The roll-out of Uni­ver­sal Credit will mean a “sig­nif­i­cant num­ber” of peo­ple will re­ceive less fi­nan­cial sup­port, a se­nior of­fi­cial with the Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions (DWP) has said.

Peter Searle, pol­icy di­rec­tor for work­ing age ben­e­fits with the DWP, told MSPs that more was be­ing spent on the sys­tem than the one it re­placed, adding this meant “on aver­age peo­ple will gain”.

How­ever, he also told Holy­rood’s So­cial Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee: “Some peo­ple, as you say, and a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of peo­ple will re­ceive less than they would have done.”

His com­ments came af­ter Donna Ward, DWP pol­icy di­rec­tor for chil­dren, fam­i­lies and dis­ad­van­tage, said the change to Uni­ver­sal Credit meant there were “def­i­nitely win­ners and losers”.

Uni­ver­sal Credit, a six-in­one ben­e­fits pay­ment, was in­tro­duced as part of the UK Govern­ment’s over­haul of the wel­fare sys­tem.

Crit­ics say cuts to pay­ments, de­lays in re­ceiv­ing ini­tial pay­ments and wide­spread prob­lems with its im­ple­men­ta­tion have led to many peo­ple fall­ing into hard­ship or drop­ping out of the ben­e­fits sys­tem al­to­gether.

The DWP of­fi­cials were pressed on the is­sue af­ter re­search by the in­de­pen­dent Scot­tish Par­lia­ment In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre (Spice) found “ex­am­ples of fam­i­lies worse off and bet­ter off un­der Uni­ver­sal Credit” when com­par­ing pay­ments un­der the sys­tem in 2016 to tax cred­its paid out in 2010.

Look­ing at the ex­am­ple of a sin­gle par­ent with two chil­dren aged two and five, and earn­ing the na­tional liv­ing wage, Spice cal­cu­lated they would be worse off un­der Uni­ver­sal Credit, re­gard­less of whether they worked 12 hours, 24 hours or 40 hours a week.

A cou­ple with two chil­dren of the same age and also on the na­tional liv­ing wage would be worse off if they are em­ployed for 40 hours a week, but would re­ceive more cash if they worked 12 or 24 hours a week.

Ms Ward said: “Typ­i­cally, fam­i­lies with chil­dren are likely to gain if they work rel­a­tively few hours. The per­son on 12 hours ought not to have qual­i­fied for tax cred­its at all, whereas they would qual­ify for uni­ver­sal credit.

“I’ll ob­vi­ously have to look at the ex­am­ples. It also de­pends if peo­ple make use of the child­care of­fer and other things.

“So, there are win­ners and losers be­cause we are bring­ing peo­ple into the in-work ben­e­fit sys­tem even if they only work one or two hours, whereas the tax credit sys­tem was very much at par­tic­u­lar points on the earn­ings dis­tri­bu­tions.

“I’m not sur­prised there are some losers but there are also some gain­ers.”

She told the com­mit­tee the sys­tem was “re­ally wellde­signed to get peo­ple into work in the first place but then also to smooth their in­cen­tives to work more”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.