Full roll-out of Universal Credit in Nottingham looks set to be paused – but the City Council’s Deputy Leader wants the Government to delay the whole programme until problems with it are ironed out.
Only a small number of benefit claimants in Nottingham have so far been placed on the controversial Universal Credit arrangements, with the expectation that tens of thousands more in Nottingham would be added to the system early next year
However, it’s now understood that from New Year’s Day, there will be no new Nottingham claimants placed on Universal Credit, with people directed to continue to claim the relevant existing benefit such as Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support or Employment Support Allowance. Those already on Universal Credit will remain on it unless their claim closes. It’s estimated the full roll-out of Universal Credit may not happen in Nottingham until next October, although some sites already delivering Universal Credit ‘full service’ remain unaffected by this change.
Councillor Graham Chapman is pleased that the Government has paused Universal Credit’s implementation in Nottingham – but thinks the whole programme should be put on hold to re-think how it is delivered and remove negative impacts it is having on claimants.
“People are often waiting six weeks or more for their first payment to come through, during which time they get into rent arrears and other debts from which they struggle to recover,” he said.
“The Chancellor announced a reduction in the waiting time to five weeks in his recent Budget – but this isn’t good enough. The pause in Nottingham is welcome but roll-out of Universal Credit should be put on hold altogether until it can be delivered without punishing people who are already in financial difficulties and many of whom are already in severe debt.”