Universal Credit - badly managed, overambitious, and poor value for money!

The National Audit Office has today announced that risks are being taken to get the planned Universal Credit in place.  Unrealistic targets and an unfamilar approach are being employed to get  the job done.  Basically the IT systems are not up to the required job.

For many people who will be reliant on this way of working when it comes into place will not have the required computer skills or ready access to a computer or internet facility that  this system demands.  This seemingly will  be just another barrier put in place, to prevent people accessing benefits and further divide the "haves and the have nots!"

According to the Work and Pensions Secretary, Ian Duncan Smith, these issues have now been fixed. Yeah right!

The new Universal Credit (one single payment) when it comes into place, will replace six of the currently separately paid benefits, Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Income Support.  The reasons given for this new method of payment is that it will encourage people into work and will reduce fraudulent claims.  Fraudulent claims by the way represent such a tiny percentage of all claims it is borderline ridiculous to suggest that this will reduce fraud, what is it going to save, spending all this money?  Suddenly people will be responsible for making sure their rent payments are made on time, rather than the current method of it being paid directly to the relevant landlord on behalf of the tenant.  The stress that this is placing on claimants is already beginning to show, people are getting worried, how will they manage, it is more than about being organised?

What we will see is that employees will possibly have their rights eroded away as they are placed on zero hour contracts, which means as an employee you do not know even on the day you get up to go to work how many hours you will work that day.  You could get there, only to discover it is a quiet day so you are sent home early and without remuneration.  How are people supposed to manage their financial affairs that way?  Also if you are on a zero hour contract and your employer "lets you go", would you be entitled to any redundancy payments or severance pay?  The plan is that employers will now update employee information in real time with the HMRC which will allow for this "ebb and flow" in employment.  When really all it seems that will happen is that people will be even further in the dark and abandoned than they ever were before.


Beverley Purdy

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