The UK Government’s Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has said the process to apply for Universal Credit is now much more “sympathetic” towards claimants.
In December last year it was revealed that half of Universal Credit claimants were behind on their rent, and Caerphilly Observer questioned Ms Rudd on this statistic while she was on a ministerial visit to Bedwas’ Peter’s Pies factory.
Ms Rudd, who took on the role of Work and Pensions Secretary in November last year, told Caerphilly Observer: “We’ve made sure that people can access Universal Credit advances on the day they apply, so I hope that would help people if they need the money straight away when they’re applying for Universal Credit.
“It is difficult for people who come on to Universal Credit with debts. It’s important [to say] that sometimes they’ve accumulated those debts irrespective of Universal Credit, and actually my view is that the work coaches who engage with people individually in a much more tailored personal way can usually help.
“They can usually help arrange repayments or they can help signpost them to organisations that will help them budget.
Ms Rudd added: “The system we have at Universal Credit now is a much more engaged, sympathetic process, so I hope people who are struggling with their rent will get some support from the work coaches in that way.”
Speaking ahead of Ms Rudd’s visit to south Wales, Caerphilly’s Labour MP Wayne David said: “Whilst some changes to Universal Credit have been introduced, and others are planned, it remains the case that not only are many families likely to be worse off, but the lack of planning and resources devoted to the introduction of the scheme is causing untold hardship to some of the most vulnerable in our society.”
Mr David added: “I urge the Minister to listen to day to day problems experienced by frontline staff at the DWP. I hope there will be a halt on the further roll out of Universal Credit so that we can have a social security system that supports people rather than one that pushes many into poverty.”
Universal Credit was rolled out across Caerphilly County Borough last September.