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We ask ‘What should be done about Universal Credit?’

March 15th 2018

As Universal Credit is set to reach all parts of Wales by the end of 2018, we explore how the changes could affect Wales’ claimants and what should be done.

In the next four years, more than 400,000 people will experience major changes in government help with their living costs. A plethora of individual benefits will gradually be replaced by a new benefit, Universal Credit, in a shake-up of social security described as the biggest in a generation.

The new system is designed to make claiming benefits simpler and help ease the transition from unemployment to employment. But the reality for existing claimants varies widely.

Our Director, Victoria Winckler, says:

“Universal Credit has been in the pipeline for more than five years, but it is only now reaching all parts of Wales. The number of claimants is starting to go up quite quickly and we are beginning to see the impact of it on individuals, families and communities.”

Despite the number of people set to be affected, there’s been no up-to-date assessment of how the change will affect people in Wales. Today we’re helping to fill the gap by bringing together more than 60 people from across the public, private and voluntary sectors, to exchange experiences and best practice at a major conference in Cardiff today.  

Already, our research has shown that:

  • More than 29,000 people are now receiving Universal Credit in Wales.
  • Just over half of claimants are unemployed with the rest being in work.
  • The majority of claimants are aged 25-49.
  • More men than women are claiming Universal Credit.

Victoria Winckler explains:

“The evidence from other parts of the UK is mixed. Some claimants cope well with the transition to monthly payments and the requirement to try to find work or increase the number of hours they work. But others struggle, getting into arrears with bills, debt and even having to rely on food banks.”

Delegates will hear from the Department for Work and Pensions, as well as experts from Citizens Advice Cymru, social landlords, local government and the Trussell Trust.

Following the conference, we’ll be conducting discussions with claimants themselves, as well as the organisations who work with them. We’ll publish their findings in a report this May, outlining our recommendations on how social services can best navigate the changes and impact of Universal Credit in Wales.  

To keep up to date with this project, please sign up to our e-newsletter.

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