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Iain Duncan Smith says Universal Credit will go ahead - Turn2us

Turn2us information sheet on Universal CreditIain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, says Universal Credit will go ahead according to the Government's timetable despite many concerns and warnings about aspects of this welfare reform.

Monthly payments

One of the main concerns expressed by several organisations, including the single parent charity Gingerbread (link opens in a new window), is that moving to a system of monthly payments will cause hardship for those on the lowest incomes. Mr Duncan Smith said that paying benefits weekly or fortnightly made it harder for people to adjust to the world at work because most employers pay monthly.

Information technology (IT)

Other critics, including the Local Government Association (link opens in a new window), are concerned about the IT system and whether it can be put in place in time and work effectively. A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions has said that the system will go ahead on time. However, giving evidence to the House of Commons Work and Pension Committee on 17 September, Mr Duncan Smith and Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform, said that the computer 'bridge' linking the DWP to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which is necessary for Universal Credit, had not yet been tested. However, other pilot schemes involving employers and HMRC had gone 'remarkably smoothly'.

Online service

Many organisations, including Citizens Advice (link opens in a new window) , are concerned about the effect that the Government's drive to get claimants to go online will disadvantage people that cannot or do not want to use the internet. The Government's target is for 50% of claims to be made online by 2013.  Mr Duncan Smith was confident this could be met. He said that 30% of claimants are already 'willing and able' with another 33% 'willing' but would 'require some support'. That left over a third who are either 'not literate' in the use of computers or 'resistant' - but 'trusted intermediaries' - relatives or social services staff - could access the system for them.

Read the Turn2us Universal Credit information sheet

Sources: The Independent (link opens in a new window) and BBC News (link opens in a new window)

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