Renewed calls to scrap Universal Credit loans
published on 23 Jun 2020
The Salvation Army is again asking for Universal Credit advance payments to be replaced with grants, following the release of a Work and Pensions Select Committee report recommending changes to the benefits system to better support people in crisis.
It comes after Rebecca Keating, director of Employment Plus at The Salvation Army, gave evidence to the committee’s inquiry in May, via video link and warned that the long-term unemployed will find it hardest to access benefits and the support they need to find work. The expected surge in unemployment will push them further to the back of the queue.
To better support unemployed people, The Salvation Army is calling for:
- an end to the five-week wait for a first payment of Universal Credit by changing advance payments into a one-off grant for all new claims.
- a national rethink on how the Department for Work and Pensions supports people suffering from mental and physical ill-health to ensure they continue to receive Universal Credit while they are job hunting
- a regional rethink from Jobcentres on how to consistently deliver support to people who need help to improve their digital literacy and budgeting skills
- a local rethink on the pressures that Work Coaches face including lowering caseloads to allow staff to identify and properly support vulnerable claimants; and
- an individual rethink on how best to ensure that Claimant Commitments are tailored to people’s individual needs, including the possibility of accessing appropriate specialist support.
Giving her reaction to the report, Rebecca said: “We recognise the efforts of the Department for Work and Pensions in ensuring the two million newly unemployed by the lockdown economic shock were signed up to Universal Credit.
“But our own research has found there is overwhelming evidence that many people struggle to apply through the mainly digital Universal Credit system, meaning as well as being unable to buy food or pay bills they are also not able to access support to find a job.
“Jobcentres are at high risk of being completely overwhelmed with millions of people looking for work. Many of those people will have fresh job skills, meaning the long-term unemployed will find it even harder to get work and are at risk of losing the support they need as Jobcentre work coaches find their caseloads grow exponentially.”