NATIONAL: Government urged to make Universal Credit changes

Should the waiting time for Universal Credit be cut?

PRIME minister Theresa May has come under further pressure to make changes to the government’s flagship welfare reform as a committee of MPs called for the waiting time for Universal Credit to be cut.

The cross-party Work and Pensions select committee said there was evidence that the six-week wait before claimants receive their first payment was causing ‘acute financial difficulty’ and should be reduced to one month.

The delay between people making a claim and receiving their first payment is designed to mimic waiting for a first pay cheque after starting a job.

Conservative committee member Heidi Allen said: ‘Despite the clear support for Universal Credit, there is cross-party recognition that the six week wait does not honour the original intentions of the system.

‘To truly represent the world of work, the payment cycle must mirror how the majority of people are paid.

‘Universal Credit will only be the success it deserves to be if it works with claimants to find work, and not against them.’

But Work and Pension Committee chairman Frank Field said: ‘No one can give us any real justification for it.

‘Such a long wait bears no relation to anyone’s working life and the terrible hardship it has been proven to cause actually makes it more difficult for people to find work.

‘It is not too late for the government to avert a Christmas disaster.’

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