Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

Universal Credit

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

Citizens Advice helped over 400,000 people with Universal Credit last year. Our clients’ evidence helps us play a key role in influencing the Government to ensure the welfare system works for all those needing support.

Why things need to change

The Covid-19 pandemic sent economic shockwaves up and down the country and millions of families turned to the benefit system for financial support. However, Universal Credit was able to adapt quickly, providing a much-needed safety net for those in need. 

Yet, the biggest challenge is still to come. The labour market has endured a seismic shift and the ballooning cost of living threatens to cast a long shadow over our recovery. In the coming months and years, Universal Credit needs to continue to adapt to provide financial support for those who need it.

What we're asking for

Last year, we welcomed changes to Universal Credit which meant that working people can keep more of what they earn. This represented a significant investment in the benefits system which will help some working families cover their essential costs. 

However, following a £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit in October and the scale of the emerging cost of living crisis, we need to look at how the benefit system can better support people to cover their basic needs, such as heating their home, or putting food on the table. 

Moreover, Universal Credit can sometimes feel like a one-size-fits-all model - the rules in the system are far too rigid to provide effective support for people with varied needs which sometimes works against its own objectives. 

For example, Universal Credit intends to help people into work, but the rule that requires claimants to pay their childcare costs upfront can make it harder for some parents to enter employment. We’re asking for Universal Credit to cover childcare payments upfront to help to remove barriers to work for parents.