politics

Universal Credit five-week wait could be slashed, Amber Rudd hints


AMBER Rudd has hinted she could rip up Universal Credit’s five week wait for payments as part of plans to try and get cash to Brits quicker.

When asked about whether she would cut the wait for new claimants, the DWP boss said she was “looking at what we can do to get cash into people’s hands earlier”.

 Amber Rudd has hinted she could make major changes to Universal Credit

EPA

Amber Rudd has hinted she could make major changes to Universal Credit

It comes after she promised to “fix” problems with the flagship benefits system and accepted there were areas in which it wasn’t working.

She told the BBC today that the “biggest problem is getting cash into people’s hands as soon as they need it”.

Brits who go onto benefits usually don’t have any savings and we “need to do better at getting them the cash earlier”, she added.

Advance payments are available for Brits who can’t wait five weeks for money, but that has to be paid back immediately out of their first UC sum.

 The new flagship benefits system, Universal Credit, has been beset with issues

Getty Images – Getty

The new flagship benefits system, Universal Credit, has been beset with issues

Ms Rudd said her department would “make it clear to people they can get that upfront as soon as they apply” and then pay it back over 13 months.

On a damning report by a UN representative earlier this week she promised to look at the concerns with women and single mums in particular.

But she blasted his findings as being too “political” and implying the system was there to negatively impact Brits.

“The aim is to help people when they need it, and help them into work,” she told Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Our motives are to be efficient and compassionate.”

 Rudd replaces Esther McVey, who quit over Brexit last week

EPA

Rudd replaces Esther McVey, who quit over Brexit last week

She said the system, which replaced six benefits into one monthly payment, would be “revolutionary” for people on benefits because it meant when they went into a job they didn’t automatically lose money.

Ministers have already announced they will give an extra two weeks of several benefits to people on Universal Credit in future – but this won’t come in until 2020.

At the moment people moving onto the new system get an extra two weeks of just housing benefit to help them cope with the switch.

At the end of 2017 it was announced that Universal Credit claimants would only face a wait of five weeks, as opposed to six – which came in earlier this year.

But Ms Rudd defended paying benefits at the end of the month as “that is generally how work is paid” but said it was “something I should look at and I will”.

“The main message I want to give is that Universal credit is a force for good and we will see how we can fix it.”

The new benefits system has been beset with issues since it first began being rolled out in 2013.

It will be in every job centre by the end of the year, but Brits are saying it’s pushing them into debt and they don’t know how much they are going to get.

One chippy owner said yesterday the new system was pushing Brits AWAY from work as people couldn’t figure out whether they would be better off or not.

And earlier this week one desperate mum told how she was forced into sex work to get money for food after waiting for her first payment.

One in six Brits still aren’t getting their first sum on time, the latest Universal Credit stats showed.

Amber Rudd vows to fix problems with Universal Credit and make it better


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