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Citizens Advice response to the Welfare Reform Bill

18 February 2011

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:

“This Bill heralds the biggest change to the welfare state since it began. We support the principles behind the radical new Universal Credit, which aims to simplify the welfare benefits system and make work pay, but we are concerned that the details are still to come and a great opportunity for reform could be permanently lost if the government does not invest enough money from the start in making it work.

“Some people will undoubtedly be better off under the new system. However, if the Government doesn’t carefully consider the cumulative impact of their proposed changes, a number of people - particularly sick and disabled people, and parents needing formal childcare - are likely to suffer significant disadvantages.

“If the Universal Credit is to make work pay for everyone, it must include comprehensive support for childcare costs. Under the new system, manylone parents on the lowest incomes will not be able to work their way out of poverty as is possible under the present benefits and tax credits system.

“The proposal to cut contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) after 12 months will betray people who have worked hard and paid national insurance contributions, only to find that they do not get the support they need if they become sick or disabled before pension age.

“And if the Government is serious about protecting the most vulnerable, people who suddenly become ill or disabled should not have to wait six months – double the current waiting time – before gettingthe new Personal Independence Payment due to replace Disability Living Allowance. The result will be enormous hardship and serious debt for many people at a time when they most need support.

“We are, however, delighted the government has listened to ours and others’ concerns and withdrawn proposals to impose a 10% cut in housing benefit on people who have been on Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) over a year, regardless of how hard the individual has tried to get work. This would have had a devastating impact on some of the most vulnerable people, who are at a disadvantage in the jobs market.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit You can also get advice online at
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.