The government has produced its evaluation report on the 13 local authority-led universal credit pilots.
It highlights six real challenges and problems that the government faces in its plans to roll out universal credi. These are the same concerns and issues that UNISON has been raising in its campaign against welfare reforms and have now proved to be key barriers in its welfare reform agenda.
Because the government went full steam ahead with its reform agenda without listening to key concerns from expert welfare representative groups and community organisations – including UNISON – at the time of the bill and regulations the timetable, the roll out for welfare reform has now been delayed.
The report looks at the findings of the local authority pilots and identifies key challenges across six themes.
- Digital inclusion – not all customer groups have access to the internet.
- Budgeting and financial management support – many social tenants have problems with debt and rent arrears, compounding problems they might have with personal budgeting.
- Work access – take up of local authority work support schemes has been limited. Many potential customers are already enrolled on the Work Programme, which is incompatible with council programmes.
- Vulnerable group and the triage process – authorities have reported difficulties in getting people to engage with the welfare and benefit changes that are likely to affect them.
- Partnership development – some authorities report that existing partnership arrangements do not facilitate the effective joint delivery of local services. More work is needed to understand the core business and service delivery processes of each partnership agency.
- Data sharing – local authorities report that data sharing among partners is a significant problem and the lack of shared data is limiting their ability to identify and target particular customer groups.
UNISON has produced five briefings setting out why the government’s current welfare reforms are unfair and will not benefit the majority of working, low-paid families, women, children and disabled people who receive additional welfare support through benefits and tax credits.
The briefings set out UNISON’s major concerns of the current welfare cuts and changes.
They also set out UNSION alternative vision of reducing dependency on welfare support improving living standards through increasing the living wage and affordable childcare provision, addressing underemployment and providing more affordable social housing.
Download the briefings now
Universal credit [PDF file]
The benefits cap [PDF file]
Housing benefit changes and the bedroom tax [PDF file]