Roadblock to recovery: Why the rules in Universal Credit are creating barriers to work
The coronavirus pandemic has turned lives upside down and threatened livelihoods. The number of employees has fallen by 740,000 since the start of the crisis, and the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits has skyrocketed to 2.6 million - the highest level in over 25 years.
Universal Credit has passed its first major test. It handled an unprecedented surge in benefit claims, providing vital financial support for millions of families. But the benefit must now pass a much harder test.
A record 2.4 million people on Universal Credit are now searching for work, with more expected to join the growing queue of job-seekers as furlough winds down at the end of September.
The Government has already taken important steps to reduce a long-term unemployment crisis. 13,500 new work coaches have been recruited, while schemes like Kickstart are supporting young people into work. But these efforts risk being undermined by rules within Universal Credit that prevent some people from finding and sustaining employment.
3 aspects of Universal Credit need fixing to ensure an equitable recovery from this crisis:
- Paying childcare costs upfront
- Widening access to the work allowance for disabled people
- Ensuring a more flexible approach to conditionality