A number of benefits including tax credits, housing benefit, income support, jobseekers benefit, and employment and support allowance will be replaced by one universal credit. This roll-out began last month with new claims in Ashton-under-Lyne, Warrington, Oldham, and Wigan in July 2013. All existing claims will be transferred in springtime 2014 and hopefully by 2017 everything will have transferred.
The government believe that, although this scheme will initially cost £100m, it will eventually save money as approximately 2.8 million homes will be paid less while 3.1 million homes may be entitled to more money. But this system should also minimise fraudulent activity and there should be a lot fewer mistakes as all universal credit claims will need to be completed and managed online.
Doubts have arisen from this as to whether the computers which help deal with claims will be able to handle the amount of new claims and also take into account that the internet is not readily available to everyone.
The frequency and method of payments will also change to only being paid on a monthly basis direct to a bank account. This may also cause issues as some people could have problems with managing their money monthly. Even though the majority of jobs pay their staff monthly.
One of the benefits of this new venture is that the amount of money a claimant receives will depend on what they earn, which will show on the system and so if someone is used to working different hours such as agency workers, they will not keep having to update the system as it will already be reflected, which will save them time.
The general idea is that this new system has been created to make the current system cleaner and easier to manage. Whether it will actually do so remains to be seen.