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Need for more Universal Credit flexibility

Published: 24 Jan 2018 00:01

More than 2,500 people take up Scottish Universal Credit choices 

The rational for introducing Scottish Universal Credit (UC) choices will be outlined by Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman when she gives evidence to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into the roll-out of UC.

Over a seven week period 5,800 new applicants in full UC service areas were offered the Scottish UC choices. Scottish Government analysis shows that between 11 November and 31 December 2017, 2,100 requested to be paid twice monthly and 1,000 elected to have the housing element of UC paid directly to their landlords, and of those 520 requested both of the choices.

Ms Freeman said:

"Our Scottish Universal Credit choices cannot fix the problems with Universal Credit caused by the UK Government decision to freeze the amounts paid or pause the roll out to make the necessary improvements to delivery. However, we are using the limited powers we do have to do what we can to help people facing hardship because of the UK Government decisions

“We spend more than £100 million annually to help relieve the worst impact of UK Government welfare cuts and support those on low incomes.

“The high take-up rate of our Universal Credit choices is evidence people want more flexibility and adaptability in how they receive the support that they are entitled to.

“The sooner that comprehensive welfare powers are in the hands of the Scottish Parliament the better, because that will mean that we can make decisions that are in the best interest of Scotland and the people we serve.”

Background

Further background on the figures above can be found at Scottish Universal Credit choices – Initial Management Information www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Social-Welfare/SocialSecurityforScotland/ScottishUCchoices

The Minister for Social Security, Jeane Freeman will appear at the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee on Wednesday 24 January between 9.30am and 10.30am.

Scottish Universal Credit choices was developed to provide more flexibility for the people of Scotland who were suffering as a result of the UC roll-out.  It was introduced on 4 October 2017 for people accessing UC for the first time in full service areas. The UC choices are offered after the first UC payment is made and, therefore, the earliest date that the UC choices offer would have been made was 11 November.

This will be extended to everyone receiving UC in full service areas from 31 January.

Scottish UC choices is only available in full service areas.

As UC is reserved to the UK Government, the DWP delivers the Scottish UC choices on  behalf of the Scottish Government with all costs associated with delivery being met by the Scottish Government.