Since the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) began, CAS has repeatedly raised concerns about fundamental elements of the design and delivery of the UC system.
Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) data, including Citizen Alerts (cases from local CAB), have shown the key problem elements of UC to be; the five week wait for first payment, the digital by default system, direct deductions from payments and increasing rent arrears caused by the cycle of payment in arrears.
CAS key recommendations are:
- An immediate reduction in the length of time people have to wait for their first payment.
- A non-repayable assessment payment for new UC claimants to cover living costs and reduce hardship over the waiting period.
- Alternative, suitably supported offline options to make and maintain claims (such as telephony, face-to-face support and home visits) should be available and actively promoted to all claimants.
- The DWP to take a holistic overview of the claimant’s circumstances and allow claimants to negotiate the rate of deduction before it is applied.
- The Scottish and UK Governments, in conjunction with social landlords, to continue to raise awareness of the Scottish Flexibilities, including having housing costs paid direct to landlords.
- The UK Government to work with organisations representing social landlords to harmonise the frequency of payments of UC Scottish Choices and Alternative Payment Arrangements with Universal Credit payments and cycles of rent payments.
- The Two-Child Limit to be abolished.
- An end to the benefits freeze.