Universal Credit does an important job of simplifying the welfare system and making it easier for people to move into employment - and its intent is supported by politicians across parties and by many charity groups and other stakeholders. The old system with multiple benefits being claimed using different systems and requiring applicants to fill in multiple forms is simply not fit for purpose.
This week David Gauke, the Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), said that roll out will continue but recognised it is more important to get this right than to do this quickly, and he confirmed that Universal Credit roll-out won't be completed until 2022. He said that the government would be refreshing the guidance to staff about giving advance payments to claimants in challenging circumstances. Claimants wanting an advance payment will therefore receive the advance within 5 working days and not have to wait six weeks. He also confirmed that if someone is in immediate need then payments can be fast-tracked in such an emergency and be paid on the very same day.
In addition to the high volume of campaign emails I have received on this issue, I am also aware of a number of individual cases where constituents of mine have experienced difficulties with Universal Credit.
I have previously written to the Department for Work and Pensions to share the concerns that have been raised with me, particularly regarding the time it can take to receive payments. I am therefore glad that guidance and process around advance payments will be refreshed, and I will continue to discuss concerns and issues expressed by constituents with Ministers directly - as do many of my colleagues.