Chloe Smith
MP for Norwich North
Oct
19

Universal Credit: Roll Out in Norwich

Author: Chloe Smith, Updated: 19 October 2018 13:29

I wanted to write to update you on the rollout of Universal Credit here in Norwich. A number of constituents have got in touch with me to express their views.  Some may have concerns given stories in the media, so I wanted to write a short piece for constituents on the upcoming Universal Credit rollout.

 

Universal Credit will arrive at Norwich Jobcentre Plus from October 2018. From this month onwards, any new claim will be directed towards Universal Credit.

 

Universal Credit is a new form of benefit that is being gradually introduced across the UK, replacing various means-tested benefits and tax credits for working age people. It will simplify the benefits system into one easy lump sum payment once a month.

 

I believe the introduction of Universal Credit will be a good thing for us here in Norwich and across the UK.  Universal Credit will transform the welfare state in Britain.  At the heart of Universal Credit is a belief that work should always pay.  So, crucially, under the new system, benefit will be withdrawn gradually as claimants start work or increase their earnings.  That means there is an incentive to get in work and stay in work – rather than the opposite, an incentive to stay on benefit because it would otherwise be abruptly withdrawn.

 

I’ve recently received a letter from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions where she makes this point very clearly.  You can read the Secretary of State’s full letter to me below.

 

What we have seen across the UK where Universal Credit has already been rolled out is that more people are getting into work faster and, crucially, staying in work than under the previous benefit system. I believe that work should always pay and that the best way out of poverty is through employment so I support this.  You will also have seen the employment figures out this week, which show that youth unemployment has halved since 2010, whilst the unemployment rate remains at its lowest since 1975, and real wages grew for the seventh consecutive month, helping families have more money in their pockets.  In Norwich North, fewer people are claiming employment benefits than nationally.

 

Everyone who receives Universal Credit must agree to a claimant commitment which stipulates that claimants must prepare for work and spend a set amount of time each week looking for jobs. Crucially, some people will not be required to look for work, namely those looking after very young children and those who have recently fled domestic abuse, to name but a few examples.

 

I understand there are some concerns about the roll-out process of Universal Credit and I want to assure you that improvements to Universal Credit have already been made, learning the lessons from the pilot roll-out.

 

For those individuals who think they may face difficulties before their first payment, an advance payment can be requested. Advance payments can help with managing the initial period before payments start, and are treated as a loan.

 

I also welcome the announcement that any household that needs it will be able to access a full month’s payment as an advance within five days of applying, and the repayment period will be doubled to 12 months.  Additionally, since February 2018 the initial seven-day waiting period has been removed so that entitlement to Universal Credit starts on the first day of the application. 

 

I also welcome the announcement that any household that needs it will be able to access a full month’s payment as an advance within five days of applying, and the repayment period will be doubled to 12 months. Additionally, since February 2018 the initial seven-day waiting period has been removed so that entitlement to Universal Credit starts on the first day of the application.

 

Looking at what people get if they are transferring to Universal Credit from an old benefit, the government wants to ensure people move seamlessly to Universal Credit and receive the support they need, which is why they’re ensuring that no one who moves sees a reduction in their benefits, with £3.1 billion of transitional protections. The government is also partnering with Citizens Advice to deliver Universal Support, to help people get access to the support they need while moving onto Universal Credit.

 

In my work as your constituency MP, I am in regular contact with representatives of Norwich Jobcentre Plus.  I have recently had a letter from the local district manager for the Jobcentre, which I attach for you to read.  She confirms that this is a sensible updating of “the outdated and complex benefits system of the past which too often stifled people’s potential.”  She also makes very clear the extensive range of support that the Norwich Jobcentre is offering people.

 

In my work as your constituency MP, I strive to ensure that we continue to get more good jobs in Norwich and help all those who can get into work. I will continue my work in Parliament to support constituents and support the notion that work should always pay.

 

 

 

 

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