Following the first stage of the Universal Credit roll out, the payment is now available for all new claimants and existing legacy benefits claimants who have had a change in circumstances across the UK. A pilot scheme is taking place in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, which is seeing recipients of legacy benefits who have not had a change in circumstances being moved onto the system.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that the pilot, which was confirmed to be underway in July last year, has only seen 13 households being moved across from the system.
This is out of a possible 10,000 households.
Providing an update to MPs earlier this week, the DWP minister Will Quince said the project involved “just under 80 [cases], with around 13 having moved onto Universal Credit”.
During a debate about the welfare system in the House of Commons, Mr Quince said the slow pace was a “rather deliberate” move.
He said: “My clear instruction to officials was to take this slow and steady, and to go at the pace the claimant requires.
“I want us to ensure that we have the information necessary to roll out Universal Credit without leaving anybody behind. We have to get it right.”
However, the numbers in the update on the pilot scheme prompted concerns to be raised.
It comes as Universal Credit is due to be in full operation across the UK by the end of 2023.
Speaking to the i, shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood said: ”At this rate it will take over 380 years to complete a pilot of 10,000 successful claims as planned.”
The DWP said: “This pilot is about learning how to move claimants safely onto Universal Credit from the old system, rather than focusing on moving large numbers of people hastily.
“That’s why we’re proceeding slowly and starting with very low numbers.”
In July last year, the DWP said that the pilot had begun, and would last for at least a year.
The Gov.uk website states that if a person currently gets any of these benefits, they do not need to do anything, unless:
- They have a change of circumstances they need to report
- The DWP contacts them about moving to Universal Credit.