The Government has set out its timetable for moving 12million benefits claimants onto the new Universal Credit by 2017.
It says over one million people will be claiming Universal Credit by April 2014 with the full roll-out being completed by 2017. The credit aims to simplify the existing system and “make work pay”.
The transition from the old benefit system to Universal Credit will take place in three phases over four years.
Between October 2013 and April 2014 – 500,000 new claimants will receive Universal Credit in place of Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
At the same time a further 500,000 existing claimants (and their partners and dependants) will also move on to Universal Credit as and when their circumstances change significantly, such as when they find work or when a child is born.
From April 2014 the second phase will give priority to households who the Government says will benefit most from the transition, such as those Working Tax Credit claimants who work low numbers of hours. The Universal Credit is designed to encourage them to increase their hours by providing a financial incentive to do so.
The last and final phase, which begins at the end of 2015 and runs through to the end of 2017, will see around three million households being transferred to Universal Credit by local authority boundary with a focus on safeguarding financial support, such as Housing Benefit payments to claimants as the old benefit system winds down.
Updating the House of Lords in a Written Ministerial Statement, Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform, said: “We recognise that the move from one welfare system to another needs to be carefully managed to ensure social outcomes are maximised and no-one is left without support, which is why we taking a phased approach to Universal Credit both in terms of moving people onto the benefit and ensuring that the systems are in place to deliver it.”