Thank you to those who have contacted me about Universal Credit (UC) and financial hardship.
There are many reasons why people use food banks.
I am committed to having a strong safety net where people need it. That is why the Department for Work and Pensions has committed to a test and learn approach to delivering UC and has made improvements where necessary, such as through removing seven waiting days and introducing 100 per cent advances. Since 2016, almost £10 billion has been injected into UC, and UC will be £2 billion more generous than the legacy system when fully rolled out.
I am glad that UC has been designed with accessibility in mind. Where a claimant requires assistance to complete the initial application process, support is available via the Universal Credit helpline, face to face in the Jobcentre or in exceptional circumstances through a home visit. If a claimant needs more intensive or specific support to make their claim, face-to-face and other help is available through the Universal Support Assisted Digital Service.
I also welcome advance payments which are worth up to 100 per cent of someone’s indicative award and are available from the date of their claim. Around 60 per cent of eligible new claims to UC received an advance in October 2018. This shows that people are being made aware of advances and are getting help when they need it. I would add that if a claimant is in financial difficulty as a result of the level of deductions being made, they can request that a reduction be considered.
I hope this helps to clarify the support available to people claiming UC when they struggle with financial difficulty, and I will continue to support improvements when necessary.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.