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David Gauke outlines details of changes to Universal Credit

Work and pensions secretary David Gauke has outlined in detail a series of measures designed to improve the roll out of Universal Credit.

 

Universal Credit is a single benefit that replaces six other benefits for those who are out of work or on a low income.

Fairer and more generous

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Gauke said that Universal Credit would become fairer and more generous with a £1.5 billion package announced in Wednesday's budget.

He said the new measures would do more than just cut waiting times for claimants applying for the benefit.

However Mr Gauke received wide criticism from opposition MPs after it emerged that changes would not come into force until next year, with some measures not being implemented until as late as April.

Improvements to the benefit

Mr Gauke said improvements would include:

  • a reduction of the waiting period  for the benefit from six weeks to five 
  • easier access to advance loans, with claimants being able to get a loan of 100 per cent of their monthly payment, up from the current 50 per cent
  • an extra two weeks' housing benefit for claimants who receive housing support
  • and rent reforms which will mean claimants  can now get rent paid directly to their landlords if they want, to reduce the risk of falling behind.

But shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said the time constraints of the reforms would mean that anyone claiming universal credit after 14 November, would not receive any money until after Christmas.

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