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Universal Credit

This campaign relates to policy or practice in England and Wales.

At Citizens Advice we’ve helped nearly 600,000 people with issues related to Universal Credit since it was introduced. Our clients’ evidence helps us play a key role in influencing the Government to ensure the benefit works for all those needing support.

Why things need to change

Universal Credit is one of the biggest changes ever made to the benefits system.  But while the benefit may be working for many, there is a significant number of people who are having problems.

With the outbreak of coronavirus, Universal Credit will have an important role in supporting people to be financially secure. The government has already made some welcome changes to protect workers and low-income families during this period. But the economic shock of the crisis has resulted in unprecedented demand for the benefit, with nearly 1 million people making claims in the last two weeks of March alone. 

It is now more important than ever that the benefits system - including Universal Credit - provides enough to live on and that people are paid quickly and efficiently. 

Our successes

Our unparalleled insight and data has meant the Government has committed to a number of changes we had been calling for, including:

  • Ending the benefits freeze so benefits increase with inflation to keep up with increasing living costs.

  • Removing the 7 waiting days at the beginning of a claim so people get money quicker.

  • Introducing an additional non-repayable financial payment for those moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit to help people pay their rent.

  • Increasing the work allowances by £1,000 a year for working families and disabled people.

  • Changes to Advance Payments so claimants can receive 100% of their payment as an advance and pay it back over 12 months, increasing to 24 months next year.

  • Making the Universal Credit helpline free to make it easier for people to access support.

These changes have helped to ensure more people receive the right support when they need it. 

What we're doing next

We’ll be examining how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting our clients to ensure they’re able to access the support they need. 

Despite welcome changes, we’re concerned that many people could still struggle to make ends meet. We’ll be using our data to assess who’s falling through the gaps, and where further changes are needed. 

What we’re saying

View our welfare policy research

View our Universal Credit blogs