DWP – Universal credit still on course for Shotton roll out.
The Department for Work and Pensions confirmed yesterday they are still on course to meet its commitment in rolling out Universal Credit (UC) to a further 6 area`s between October and Spring 2014 which includes Shotton.
Its difficult to measure whether the roll out has been delayed, the original statement claimed the next 6 areas to go live with UC would be from October onwards, however the DWP were cautious not to publish a firm date given the background of chaos with the government`s ICT systems.
The DWP appointed Kevin Cunningham yesterday (Mon) the ex global head of “online” at Vodafone to the role of first director general for digital transformation, in an effort to bring the whole digital element of UC back in to line.
In early September Deeside.com was told by a prominent local councillor that UC had already started to be deployed in Shotton Job Centre, all be it by pen and paper, however a tweet from Flintshire Citizens Advice last week seems to confirm what we have also been hearing “on the ground”
9 out of 10 CAB clients not ready for #UniversalCredit Shotton expected to go live in March 14. We are here to help! http://t.co/rC2eKP2xqi
— Flintshire CAB (@Flintshirecab) October 11, 2013
Interestingly the Citizens Advice surveyed over 1,700 of its clients who will start to receive Universal Credit from October and asked them whether they felt they would be able to cope with five possible problem areas –budgeting, monthly payments, banking, staying informed and internet access.
They found that Ninety-two per cent of future Universal Credit recipients said they felt unprepared for the new system in at least one area.
While 38% will need support with all of the possible problem areas.
Its the first stage of a pilot CAB are carrying out in three areas Birmingham, Ynys Mon, North Dorset to test out how they can support people with these changes.
Because of the number of people who need support moving onto Universal Credit, CAB are calling on the Government to:
- Fund local Citizens Advice Bureaux so that they can deliver support for people moving onto UC.
- Allow people the right to decide whether they want their benefits paid more frequently than monthly, for at least a year.
- Allow people the right to decide if they want their housing costs paid directly to their landlord, for at least a year.
- Ensure that everyone has access to at least a basic bank account
You can read the full report here
In other Universal Credit related news:
Starting yesterday (14 October 2013), new jobseekers will have to account more clearly for their efforts to find work in order to receive their benefit.
New claimants to Jobseeker’s Allowance will now need to sign a Claimant Commitment which sets out more fully what they need to do in order to receive state support – building on current support and providing clear information about the consequences of failing to meet requirements.
Work coaches will help claimants set out a detailed statement of what they will do to find work using a new personal work plan. Claimants will also use the plan to record what they have done. They will renew their Claimant Commitment on a regular basis.
Claimants will have to provide evidence to prove they have met the requirements in their Claimant Commitment. Those who fail to do so without good reason risk losing their benefits.
Employment Minister Esther McVey said:
The Claimant Commitment marks the start of a redefinition of the relationship between the welfare state and claimants. In return for state support, we expect claimants to do all they can to meet their responsibilities to return to work.
It also strengthens the ability of Jobcentre Plus staff to support claimants back into work at the earliest opportunity. Work coaches and jobseekers will agree regular specific tasks and training opportunities and the penalties claimants could face for failing to meet their responsibilities to get into work will be clearly spelt out.
The Claimant Commitment is being introduced in around 100 Jobcentres a month, until it is in place across the country by the spring.
A personal plan setting out what claimants will do to prepare for and find work will be based upon the discussion between the jobseeker and their work coach and will be reviewed on a regular basis.
The new commitment is an important part of the cultural transformation that Universal Credit will bring and will place a strong focus on the responsibilities that claimants must fulfill.
Other developments to support the cultural transformation ushered in by Universal Credit include:
- 6,000 new computers in Jobcentres across the country for claimants to look and apply for jobs online, replacing the dated job points
- new activities trialled in Hammersmith Jobcentre Plus including claimants having 3 face-to-face interviews with their work coach within the first 2 weeks of their Universal Credit claim – this will enable their work coach to assess that claimants are completing up to 35 hours of positive job-seeking activity each week
- between now and the spring, 25,000 Jobcentre Plus advisers will receive additional training to deliver the Claimant Commitment
- we are on course to meet our commitment to roll out Universal Credit to a further 6 sites between October and spring 2014, starting with Hammersmith this month.