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Universal credit is a huge change to the benefits system, expected to affect 8 million households.
It replaces the present system with a single income-replacement benefit.
These benefits will be replaced by UC:
• Working tax credit.
• Child tax credit.
• Housing benefit.
• Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA).
• Income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA).
• Income support.
It does not affect these benefits:

  • Contribution-based JSA
  • Contributory ESA
  • Attendance allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance for children
  • PIPs
  • Carer’s allowance.
  • Bereavement benefits.
  • Industrial injuries disablement benefit and war pensions.
  • Maternity allowance; statutory sick/maternity/paternity/adoption pay (these will be treated as earnings for UC).
  • Child benefit and guardian’s allowance.
  • Pension credit (PC)
  • Social fund maternity, funeral, winter fuel and cold weather payments.
  • “Passported” benefits

Universal Credit (UC)It is being piloted in some regions at the moment to test it for difficulties, but goes live from October 2013.
From October 2013, all new claims from unemployed people will be on the Universal Credit system.
People in work (on low incomes or part-time) will be transferred to Universal credit in April 2014, and the system will be complete by 2017.

The government says these reforms will:
• Simplify the system.
• Reduce the barriers to taking up work.
• Make it easier to see how much you will gain by taking a job.
• Encourage work.
• Prepare unemeployed claimants for their next job.
• Admin will be cheaper as it will mostly be done online
• Reduce (in the longer term) the number of children and adults living in poverty.
• Reduce the number of workless households by always ensuring that work pays.

But for most people on benefits it represents change and uncertainty.
One of the huge changes is in how you apply – almost everyone will be expected to apply online. This may represent problems for some disabled people, and there is no clear evidence that the Government has equality impact assessed this and come up with satisfactory adjustments for disabled people.Also, payment is being changed to monthly payments into a bank.

The following questions need to be answered:
What happens to people with a learning disability or people eho have difficulty with reading and writing?
What about people without access to a computer?
Is the website/software being properly tested for accessibility and functioning with various text-to-speech and braille software?
Will signed videos of instructions be included on every page?
What happens to people who are expected to use public access computers when it snows, or when they are ill, or when they cant get a Ring & Ride spot?
What happens when the UC computer system breaks down/is hacked/has problems? (it has after all had 4 bosses in 6 months)
Why haven’t you carried out Labour’s policy of wifi in every household by rolling out a system that relies so heavily on personal wifi access?
What will you do to prevent a disparity between those who have internet and those who dont?
What happens to people who have no experience of monthly budgeting?
What happens to people who are juggling a very low income and easily get into debt by using the rent money that used to be paid to the landlord, for food?
Why are single parents going to do worse by this system?

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