Leaked documents seen by the BBC have shown that the government will once again delay the rollout of Universal Credit, with Esther McVey saying that a “small amount of people – maybe 10,000” will be moved onto the system in 2019.
Despite the government’s plans to have Universal Credit fully up-and-running by April 2017, the system is now expected to be fully rolled out between March and December 2023 – six years after the initial finish date.
The papers seen by the BBC show that the government are now trying to reduce the impact of being moved onto Universal Credit, with plans being made to continue paying ESA, JSA and income support for two weeks after a Universal Credit claim has been made. Claimants are now also able to ask for an advance on their first Universal Credit payment, which will be paid back through deductions at 30% per month once their claim is fully instated.
However, the BBC notes that the government are unsure of how achievable these plans are, with the document stating: “We can currently offer no assurance that ultimately these proposals will prove to be deliverable, can survive legal challenges where they can be delivered, and do not invite new political criticism by generating new policy issues.”
Worryingly, the Mirror notes that the report makes no mention of the “taper rate,” which the BBC has previously reported – a system in which claimants earning over the threshold of £198 per month will have their payment “tapered” by 63p on every £1.
A DWP spokesperson told the BBC: “We will publish full plans for the next stage of Universal Credit rollout, including managed migration, in due course. Anything before that point is speculation and we do not comment on leaks.”
Calls are still being made to halt the rollout completely, however, with fears still rife that the system will do significantly more harm than good.Get your copy of UNITE Magazine