29 October 2018 You are here:

Universal Credit: an indication of change, but the work is far from over

Budget 2018

The Salvation Army welcomes today’s pledge to invest in the roll out of Universal Credit.

Continuing research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that work allowances are over five times more effective in supporting low income working families than increasing the Personal Tax Allowance.

We therefore welcome the announcement around the increase in work allowances. The Salvation Army believes that government should follow up this specific intervention with further action to address the wider structural causes of poverty, including wider limitations in the social security system, as well as low pay.

The Salvation Army urges government to look specifically at the impact that the freeze to most working age benefits and tax credits has had on both working families, as well as the most vulnerable in our society. We would also encourage government to take further steps to rectify the administrative problems that can sometimes make it difficult for people within our services to make and maintain a Universal Credit claim.

Recent evidence from The Salvation Army shows that many of these administrative barriers, as identified by Work Coaches, customers and benefit advisers, can be largely overcome if the Department for Work and Pensions worked more closely with the third sector to enable people to access and maintain their claims.

Matthew Sowemimo, Head of Public Affairs and Social Policy at the Salvation Army said:

“There is still more to do. By 2020, it is estimated that one million unemployed households with children will be more than £3,000 a year worse off. In large part, this is due to changes in the tax and social security system since 2010. “Across our mission services, The Salvation Army will continue to identify what is needed to ensure that Universal Credit works as effectively as possible for those who face additional barriers, including digital exclusion.

“Just under half of people moving onto Universal Credit need personalised and ongoing support to successfully access the new system. In particular, we have identified a lack of digital and budgeting support as key barriers preventing people from successfully accessing and maintaining a claim for Universal Credit.

“Over the past year, we have seen an increase in the number of people coming to our centres in need of ongoing support to overcome their lack of digital skills. For Universal Credit to fulfil its original ambitions, it is vital that these people are supported to begin using the system and moving towards employment.”