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An answer to a written question in the House of Lords has revealed that 16% of new Universal Credit claims still aren’t paid on time. The government also revealed that 6% of all claims aren’tbeing paid to claimant when they should. With the pilot of managed migration starting later in the year, not to mention the addition of mixed age pensioners to UC, pressure is going to grow on an already strained system.
Labour peer, Lord McNicol of West Kilbride submitted a written question on January 7th asking the government;
“how many, and what percentage of, Universal Credit claimants are on alternative payments arrangements.”
In what is becoming government tradition, the answer was snuck out late last night amongst the chaos of Brexit.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary at The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Baroness Buscombe answered with the latest figures held by the DWP from November 2018.
The data given by the peer shows that despite Universal Credit having been operational for 5 years, 16% of new claimants still aren’t being paid on time. Of course the government were keen to explain where the blame lay. With the claimants.
The Baroness said;
“In many cases where full payment is not made on time, it is due to unresolved issues such as: claimants not accepting their Claimant Commitment or passing identity checks, satisfying the Habitual Residency Test, or having outstanding verification issues, such as housing costs and self-employed earnings.”
On the point of claimants failing identity checks. It has been raised numerous times that the online identity checks required by Universal Credit simply don’t work.
While you can verify your identity in person, it has been reported that some Jobcentre staff have refused claimants documents and pointed them back to the online system; GovVerify. Not to mention that many people do not have a Passport of Driving Licence to pass the check.
But as per usual with the Tories, it isn’t the system’s fault but the claimants.
What the Peer’s answer doesn’t address, is why 6% of existing claims are being paid late. There is no excuse for claimants who have an active claim, to not be getting their payment on time.
Again this isn’t a surprise, last year a study by national foodbank charity Trussell Trust found that 60% of all new Universal Credit claimants are entering debt just because of the application process.
That report was branded inaccurate by then Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey. Her predecessor Amber Rudd started her tenure at the DWP by blasting the latest UN report on Poverty in the UK as “highly political.”
The Tories have a policy of deny and deflect so I am in absolute no doubt that these figures will just be ignored. Plus with Brexit consuming the news just now, the majority of media outlets won’t even mention these figures.
After all, it’s only some of the most vulnerable in our society going weeks without any money.