Harrogate picked as latest Universal Credit roll-out pilot site, Amber Rudd MP announces

Amber Rudd. Picture by DWP.
Amber Rudd. Picture by DWP.

Benefit claimants in Harrogate who still receive six old style benefits will be the first people moved onto Universal Credit (UC).

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd announced the move to Parliament today.

Harrogate was chosen after "careful consideration" because of factors including the local jobcentre’s "significant experience" of Universal Credit.

And additional support will be put in place at Harrogate Jobcentre Plus, including bespoke support w on hand for vulnerable claimants such as home visits.

Ms Rudd has previously confirmed that up to 10,000 claimants across the country who are on the old system would be moved to UC under a pilot scheme to start in July 2019 once regulations have been passed in Parliament.

More than 1.6 million people currently claim Universal Credit, but these are new benefits claimants or people who have had a change in circumstance. All new claimants in the United Kingdom now go straight onto Universal Credit.

The process of moving people from the old system to the new system is known as Managed Migration.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd said: “Moving people from the old and outdated benefits system to Universal Credit is a positive and important moment.

“Once on Universal Credit people will benefit from a more personal service and can expect to receive up to six benefits combined into one, making it easier for them to manage their money.

“But the switch needs to be done carefully which is why we are taking a step-by-step approach to this, starting in Harrogate.

“I want to be sure that the switch to Universal Credit is a hassle free process for claimants and everyone person receives the personalised service they deserve.”

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said: “The Harrogate District was one of the first areas in the country to roll out Universal Credit. Over the past few years I have met with users, employers and Job Centre staff and have heard how much Universal Credit has benefitted many in our area and has helped many more to get back into work.

“It is important that work always pays so that is why I am pleased that all benefit claimants in our area will be moved onto Universal Credit.

“It is also reassuring to hear that the Department for Work and Pensions are taking a step-by-step approach with the roll-out to ensure that claimants and Jobcentre Plus staff are well supported with the transition.”

All those in Harrogate moving to Universal Credit will be personally supported by Jobcentre Plus staff to ensure they get the best possible service.

The goal of the pilot is to learn as much as possible about how to help people to move onto UC. We will increase numbers as slowly and gradually as necessary, expanding to further locations as required.

The Department for Work and Pensions will begin to move a small number of people from existing legacy benefits (income based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income related Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits) to Universal Credit (UC).

As already confirmed, claimants will also receive transitional protection, to avoid cash loss at the point of moving to Universal Credit.

The completion of the moving legacy benefit claimants to Universal Credit is set to finish by December 2023.

Amber Rudd has already made changes to improve the fairness of Universal Credit, in January, including that the Department would stop the introduction of a retrospective benefit limit on families with more than two children.