Universal credit: delivery causing unacceptable hardship

The Public Accounts Committee has published it's latest report into the Universal Credit Inquiry  and finds that the introduction of Universal Credit is causing unacceptable hardship and difficulties for many of the claimants it was designed to help.

This new report builds on the evidence of the earlier findings of the National Audit Office (NAO)'s report Rolling Out Universal Credit 

Public Accounts Committee Chair Meg Millier MP commented 

This report provides further damning evidence of a culture of indifference at DWP – a Department disturbingly adrift from the real-world problems of the people it is there to support. Its apparent determination to turn a deaf ear to the concerns of claimants, frontline organisations and Parliament is of real concern. The culture needs to change. A Department in denial cannot learn from its mistakes and take the action necessary to address the desperate hardship suffered by many Universal Credit claimants. DWP’s dismissive attitude points to a troubling pattern of behaviour in the Department – something highlighted by our recent report on errors in Employment and Support Allowance. The Department’s painfully slow approach to correcting underpayments, years after it accepted responsibility, indicated weaknesses at the highest levels of management. As a priority the Department must demonstrate a tangible shift in the way it listens and responds to feedback and evidence. Meanwhile, the Government’s recent announcement of changes to the roll-out of Universal Credit offers no guarantee that the problems facing claimants will be resolved 

The report contains eight conclusions and recommendations for the Department Of Work & Pensions including

  • to identify specific measures that demonstrate a step change in its attitude to listening and responding to feedback and evidence from its partners
  • set out, what more it will do to ensure that work coaches are well equipped to provide the right support packages for claimants including those with health needs and other vulnerabilities, and how it will measure and ensure this is happening in practice
  • in order to mitigate financial hardship for claimants, the Department must establish methods for measuring hardship & identify the specific challenges faced by people with different needs