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Universal credit has been extended from today to new jobseekers in Hammersmith as the rollout of the new benefit continues at a much slower pace than first proposed.
The new benefit rolls six benefits into one and was expected to be rolled out nationally by this point. However, so far it has only been extended to a few areas around the country and only to single people.
Alongside the credit, Hammersmith Jobcentre Plus will also start trialling intensive support for new jobseekers. Claimants will have four face-to-face interviews with their Work Coach within the first two weeks of their Universal Credit claim – with the first lasting 90 minutes.
Jobseekers will also be required to sign the new Claimant Commitment. This sets out more fully what jobseekers must do in order to receive state support – providing clear information about the consequences of failing to meet requirements
Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: “Universal Credit is modern welfare that rewards people who move into work, supports those who’ve fallen on hard times and is fair to taxpayers. We introduced Universal Credit in a slow, safe and controlled way in Manchester and this careful approach is working well. Most people are claiming it online, the IT is working and comprehensive support is in place. We will build on these successes as Universal Credit rolls out across the country.”
People who claim Universal Credit will be given access to support delivered by a mix of local authorities and third sector organisations aimed at helping them budget their money, get online and manage their claim online.
The Government says universal credit will expand to Rugby, Inverness, Harrogate, Bath and Shotton by the spring.
The Government says the first claimants to universal credit are single jobseekers and the majority of claims will be made online and respond in real time to changes in people’s circumstances, including when they take a job.