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Iain 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
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.
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
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
The Independent (link opens in a new window) and BBC News (link
opens in a new window)
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