News

Offering flexibility to Universal Credit recipients

Published: 31 Oct 2018 09:55

Thousands of Scots exercising their choices.

Nearly one in two people in receipt of Universal Credit in Scotland has chosen for their payments to be paid in a different way when offered the choice by the Scottish Government.

While Universal Credit is reserved to the UK Government, Scottish Ministers have used their limited powers in this area to enable people to receive payments more frequently and/or for the housing cost in their payment to be made directly to their landlords, which should help reduce rent arrears and evictions.

Newly published figures show that, by the end of August this year, 66,700 people had been offered one or both Scottish choices since October 2017, with around 32,000 – almost 50% - taking up the offer.

Speaking on a visit to Prospect Community Housing in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Universal Credit is causing undeniable hardship and misery to people and families across the country and the roll out of Universal Credit full service comes to Edinburgh from next month.

“The UK Government missed an opportunity to use the budget to address the fundamental flaws with Universal Credit including delays to payments, the minimum five week delay in getting first payment and the appalling two-child cap.

“The Scottish Government will continue to call for a halt to Universal Credit until it is made fit for purpose. We cannot be expected to fill the £3.7 billion gap in welfare spending caused by UK Government cuts, particularly on a continuing real terms cut in fiscal budget of 5.9% between 2010-11 and 2019-20.

“We have done what we can with our limited powers, providing people who receive Universal Credit with choices on the frequency of their payments and paying housing costs directly to their landlord.  We have also committed to introduce split payments of the Universal Credit award in Scotland to ensure everyone has access to an independent income.

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

Background

Of the 31,960 people who chose one or both of the Universal Credit (UC) Scottish choices, 26,910 chose to implement more frequent payments. 11,430 chose to have the housing element of UC paid direct to their landlords, and 6,380 chose both. An additional 4,000 also requested and took up one or both of the choices.

The full publication is available here.

UC Scottish choices give recipients of UC in Scotland a choice to have their UC award paid either monthly or twice monthly, and have the housing costs in their award of UC paid direct to their landlord. A person can make just one or both choices, depending on their circumstances. It was introduced on 4 October 2017 for people accessing UC for new claims in full service areas. On 31 January 2018 it was extended to everyone receiving UC in full service areas.

As UC is reserved to the UK Government, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) deliver the choices on behalf of the Scottish Government and charge the Scottish Government for that.