New monthly universal credit scheme to go ahead, says IDS

Critics claim benefits shake-up will cause hardship for those on the lowest incomes

One of the biggest attempted reforms of Britain's welfare system will go ahead according to the Government's timetable despite a host of warnings about what could go wrong, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, insisted yesterday.

Mr Duncan Smith is introducing a system called universal credit, which he insists will be much simpler to operate and understand than the myriad benefits that it replaces.

Giving evidence to the Commons Work and Pension Committee yesterday, he brushed aside warnings that moving to a system of monthly payments will cause hardship for those on the lowest incomes, who fear that the money will run out before the month is up.

Anne Begg, who chairs the committee, warned: "There is huge concern about monthly payments. There are going to be people who don't manage their monthly payments. What arrangements are going to be in place for those people?"

Mr Duncan Smith insisted that paying benefits weekly or fortnightly made it harder for people who find jobs to adjust to the world at work now that the majority of employers pay monthly. The "weekly pay packet" at the factory gate is a thing of the past, he said.

The universal credit will replace jobseeker's allowance, tax credits, income support, employment and support allowance – formerly known as incapacity benefit – and housing benefits with a single payment.

There have also been fears that the Government will be unable to get an IT system in place in time for the system to work effectively. The computer "bridge" linking the Work and Pensions Department to Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has not yet been tested. But Mr Duncan Smith and Lord Freud, a junior minister in the Work and Pensions Department, insisted that pilot schemes in which employers were linked by computers to HMRC so that they could send information about the payroll down the line had gone "remarkably smoothly".

"It's literally pressing one extra button. You do the payroll then you press one extra button to send it over to HMRC," Lord Freud said.

Another common fear is that the Government's drive to get claimants to go online will disadvantage those who cannot or do not want to use the internet.

The Government's target is that 50 per cent of claims will be made online by 2013. Mr Duncan Smith said he was confident it could be met. He claimed that 30 per cent of claimants are already "willing and able" to use the web, and another 33 per cent are "willing" but "require some support".

That left over a third who are either "not literate" in the use of computers or "resistant" but "trusted intermediaries" – relatives, or social services staff – to access the system for them.

Universal credit: How it will work

Universal credit is a new single payment for people on low incomes or who are out of work which is due to replace tax credits, income support, housing benefit and jobseeker's allowance. It is due be rolled out from next year.

The Government says it will be simpler to administer and will encourage people to get into work by removing the disincentives inherent in the current system.

At present, someone moving off benefits and into work might only be 10 per cent better off but under the new system they would be at least 35 per cent better off. But there are worries that it could penalise families whose circumstances change.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform