More evidence of the chaotic introduction of the all-in-one benefit Universal Credit (UC) emerged last week, after a key part of the new system was taken offline.
The ‘live service’ part of UC was closed to new claimants on New Year’s Day, after the government was forced to provide an emergency £1.5bn injection because of delays in payments.
Unite said the cancellation of the live service – a partial form of the new system aimed primarily at single individuals without children – shows the introduction of UC is in “complete disarray” and should be halted.
The department for work and pensions (DWP) insisted that the live service was always going to be scrapped, however an urgent notification was sent to Jobcentres in December because the timing had been brought forward.
The change was made after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that from January advance loans available to UC recipients would be doubled, following a cross-party outcry over the number of claimants being left without cash for months because of payment holdups.
It appears that providing the loans through different versions of UC would have taken up too many resources, so live services have been closed.
A DWP spokesperson said the schedule has been changed “so we can focus on implementing the £1.5bn package of improvements for Universal Credit as quickly as possible”.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said the rescheduling was just another example of the Tories’ mishandling of the entire UC rollout.
“For the umpteenth time the rollout of Universal Credit has been shown to be in complete disarray,” he said.