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Citizens Advice outlines its concerns on the new Universal Credit

9 February 2011

On the day that Iain Duncan Smithappears before the Work and Pensions Select Committee to be questioned on Universal Credit, and Liam Byrne MP is due to make a keynote speech on welfare reform at the IPPR, Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy sets out the charity's concerns on the Government’s proposed ‘Universal Credit’ system for welfare benefits:

“The Universal Credit heralds the biggest change to the benefits system since the introduction of the welfare state and it’s imperative the Government gets it right. If the system isn’t properly funded now,the Government could permanently jeopardise a really good opportunity for reform.

"We support the principles behind the Universal Credit - to simplify the benefits system and make work pay- but the lack of detail on the proposed measures means we can’t properly assess whether the new system will be fair.

“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, new parents and parents needing formal childcare - are likely to suffer significant disadvantages.

“There is a real danger that lone parents with young children will not be able to work their way out of poverty as is possible under the present benefits and tax credits system.

“We eagerly await the imminent Welfare Reform Bill for more clarity on the detail of Universal Credit and with it a reassurance that its principles will be upheld."

Gillian Guy today spoke at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Social Science and Policy about Universal Credit.

Notes to editors

  1. The Government plans to redesign the system of means-tested benefits and tax credits for working-age adults by replacing them all with a single benefit, known as Universal Credit
  2. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we helppeople resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more information in England and Wales see www.citizensadvice.org.uk
  3. 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. For online advice and information see www.adviceguide.org.uk  
  4. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 7.1 million problems from April 2009 to March 2010, an 18% increase on the previous year. For full 2009/2010 service statistics see: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/press_20100517
  5. Out of 22 national charities, the Citizens Advice service is ranked by the general public as being the most helpful, approachable, professional, informative, effective / cost effective, reputable and accountable. (nfpSynergy’s Brand Attributes survey, May 2010).
  6. Most Citizens Advice service staff are trained volunteers, working at around 3,300 service outlets across England and Wales.