Universal Credit is being opened up to families in some parts of the country this week.
Claims from families started in the north west with six Jobcentres going live on Monday with the rest of the nearly 100 Jobcentres going live early next year.
The Department for Work and Pensions says that by spring 2015, one in three of the UK’s Jobcentres will be taking claims for the new benefit.
Universal Credit merges six benefits in to one and aims to simplify the system. Previously UC has only been trialled with single people. For families UC will mean that for the first time, parents will receive support of up to 70% of childcare costs no matter how many hours they work – with a monthly limit for one child of £532 and £912 for two or more children. By 2016 this will be increased to 85%, with a monthly limit of £646 for one child and £1,108 for two or more children.
The last new claims to benefits under the old system will be accepted during 2017. Following this, the stock of remaining legacy claims will progressively decline, and the DWP will migrate the remaining claims to Universal Credit. It says that should there be no change in the labour market outlook or the pace at which claims are migrated, the current business case assumes for planning purposes the bulk of this exercise will be complete by 2019.