Universal Credit encourages poverty while IDS trumpets unproven work link

Wed, 04/12/2013 - 14:13 -- nick

A new report on Universal Credit shows that poverty is growing for those taking part in pilot schemes.

The scheme has been blighted from the start, with accusations of mismanagement, allegations that it does not work, the write-off of hundreds of millions of pounds due to IT failures, and a far slower introduction pace than promised.

Now further issues have come to light, with nearly a quarter of those receiving the benefit not confident in their ability to manage the move to monthly payments.

Only a third of claimants believe that the new payments are more convenient than the old fortnightly system.

The report shows that the monthly system has increased poverty, forcing a third of claimants to borrow money.

Only 19% of those on JSA needed to do this, and the new group included some who had been forced to turn to payday lenders.

The IT system is still giving troubles: 13% reported crashes, 9% didn't understand its instructions, the same number had difficulty getting information from it, 10% said it took too long and 27% said it took them more than one go to register.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reported the findings under the headline 'Universal Credit encourages people to look for jobs', with claimants applying for an average of 16 jobs each week against 11 for those on Jobseeker's Allowance.

Under-fire Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said:

    "Under Universal Credit, we are beginning to see a cultural shift where people choose to work rather than rely on state support.

    "It is great that claimants are getting the help they need from our Jobcentre Plus advisers and that they feel confident about managing changes such as monthly payments.

    "It is vital that we continue to build on the progress made in these pathfinder areas and ensure that Universal Credit makes work pay."

    The report, by IFF, was based on a survey of 901 claimants in four pathfinder areas in the north-west of England.

UnemployedNet says:

Smith's statement that Universal Credit makes people choose work instead of benefits is another example of his fast and loose approach to facts.

The one obvious question that the survey needed to consider was whether more people had got into work under the new scheme, but this wasn't even asked.

It may make people apply for more jobs and spend more time looking for work, but even this apparently positive result could be because they are getting more attention within the Universal Credit pilot than they would under regular JSA.

The idea that it makes people choose to work is not proven, and the fact that the achievement question was not asked suggests the government was not confident that it would get the answer it wanted.

Smith must stop making the claims he wants to be true, misleading the country that his reforms are working, and make a positive difference to the workless by concentrating all his efforts on improving the supply of jobs.

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