Thank you for contacting me in relation to Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is a major reform that will transform the welfare state in Britain. At the heart of Universal Credit is a belief that work should always pay. Under the new system, benefit will be withdrawn gradually as claimants start work or increase their earnings, meaning their total income always goes up.
Rightly for a programme of this scale, the priority continues to be its safe and secure delivery. The controlled expansion of Universal Credit started in April 2013 and I am pleased that significant progress has been made to date. Universal Credit is now available for single claimants in every jobcentre in the country and I continue to support this roll-out.
Figures have shown that people claiming Universal Credit are 13 per cent more likely to be in work than people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, earning more money and more willing to take a job than under the previous system.
The taper rate has also been reduced since April of this year to help people to progress in work. I welcome this change, which will mean people will keep more of what they earn and will be better rewarded for increasing their hours or pay.
Under Universal Credit, support worth up to 85 per cent of childcare costs is now available regardless of hours worked, significantly higher than the support that was available under tax credits. This will give parents more flexibility to work and earn more money.
I understand that we can always look to improve how the benefit system works to ensure that it is fair, reliable and fit for purpose. However, I welcome the work that the government has done to ensure that the new system is up to speed for claimants. This includes the provision of advanced payments for those who need help before their full monthly entitlement, and transitional protections for those who have been migrated onto the new scheme.
It is clear that the government’s commitment to get people into work as the first priority is working in Beverley and Holderness. The latest figures from August 2017 show that there are 50 fewer constituents claiming out-of-work benefits than at that point in 2016, and the Government continues to propel unprecedented levels of employment in our area through initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse.
I hope this explains why I strongly support this important reform, and believe that the planned roll-out should not be paused at this juncture. Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.