The government will face a protests as it launches a new benefit as part of a “fundamental cultural shift” of the welfare system. Universal credit, which replaces other benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance, income support and other tax credits, will be introduced in Ashton-under-Lyne from Monday.
The Guardian reported on Friday that only a few dozen people are expected to claim benefits using the new universal credit scheme when it is launched on Monday, and the total number who will qualify will be limited to 300 a month, in a radical scaling back of the pilot.
Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “Universal credit is nothing less than the start of a fundamental cultural shift of the welfare system. This will revolutionise the way people experience the welfare state. It will make it easier for people to claim what they are entitled to, but more importantly it will make it easier for people to move off benefits and into work. This is the first step on a long journey and the pathfinder is our opportunity to get Universal Credit right. We will bring in this radical and vital reform in a careful and controlled way.”
But the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents staff in jobcentres, said it will stage a protest at Ashton-under-Lyne, adding that the government should rethink universal credit and prioritise creating jobs and supporting peopleinto them instead of “demonising” those out of work and entitled to benefits.
The union also announced that about 1,500 of its members who work for Hewlett Packard on government contracts, including the Department for Work and Pensions, will strike on Monday in a dispute over cuts to jobs and pay.
Minister for welfare reform Lord Freud said: “The start of universal credit today is a big step forward. “We are finally implementing a benefit system that is fairer, where claimants will be better off in work than on benefits.”
29th April 2013