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
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Robin van Persie leaves the field at the King Power Stadium last Sunday
football
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch as John Watson and Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock
tv

Co-creator Mark Gatiss dropped some very intriguing hints ahead of the BBC drama's return next year

News
In this photo illustration, the Twitter logo and hashtag '#Ring!' is displayed on a mobile device as the company announced its initial public offering and debut on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in London, England. Twitter went public on the NYSE opening at USD 26 per share, valuing the company's worth at an estimated USD 18 billion.
news

News
people

London 'needs affordable housing'

Arts and Entertainment
music Band accidentally drops four-letter description at concert
Life and Style
tech
News
peopleIan Thorpe addresses Ricky Martin rumours
Arts and Entertainment
'Africa' will be Angelina Jolie's fifth film as a director
film

Mr and Mrs Smith star admits she's 'never been comfortable on-screen'

Arts and Entertainment
Australia singer Iggy Azalea has been attacked by Eminem in a new rap
music

Singer was ordered not to 'blow her rape whistle' in song 'Vegas'

Extras
indybest
News
Myleene Klass
people
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

Recruitment Genius: Visitor Centre - Business Manager

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: For the first time in its 1,000 year his...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Commercial Property Surveyor

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading firms of Cha...

Recruitment Genius: Female Companions / Personal Assistants - Perm and Bank

£9 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: We are currently recruiting for a care ...

Recruitment Genius: Groundworker

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Ground-worker required for an e...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines