Citizens Advice warns problems with Universal Credit cannot “be kicked into the long grass”
National charity, Citizens Advice, today warns that ministers must urgently address problems in the introduction of Universal Credit, as a new report from the Public Accounts Committee delivers its progress report on the Government’s flagship welfare reform.
Gillian Guy said:
“Ministers have been worryingly unclear about how people will be supported in moving onto Universal Credit. A single universal benefit could be a huge improvement to people’s lives, but Government cannot leave these reforms to chance.
“Citizens Advice research shows that nine out of ten people are not ready to deal with these changes without support. In the next pilot areas, 22 per cent of Citizens Advice Bureaux clients don’t have basic banking services, nearly half will struggle with online forms and 83 per cent will struggle to deal with monthly payments.
“These issues cannot be kicked into the long grass. The Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) analysis shows that poor delivery is putting the whole reform, and most importantly people’s wellbeing, under threat. The Select Committee is right that taxpayers must get value for money but the most crucial priority must be to ensure that the individuals and families affected are protected through these changes.
“The PAC is right to say that ministers should not draw any firm conclusions from the pilots so far. Rolling this out slowly is the right thing to do but at the moment ministers are just storing up big problems further down the road. By sticking to its 2017 deadline, ministers are backloading the most complicated cases whilst failing to put in place the support they will need.
“Citizens Advice Bureaux will work round the clock to help make this reform work but ministers must address these huge holes in their own preparation. When DWP looks again at how this new benefit will work, it must ensure people have access to the advice and support they need. Charities like Citizens Advice are ideally placed to provide support but we desperately stronger guidance from Government.”
Notes to editors:
- 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.
- 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.
- To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk
- 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
- 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
- Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.