The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has just released figures which show Universal Credit is still in chaos – despite the stats seemingly showing otherwise.
The DWP: more bad news
On Monday 9 July, the DWP released the latest statistics for the time it took new “full service” Universal Credit claimants to get their first payment. The figures for February this year show [pdf, p2] that, of new claims:
- 83% got their full payment on time, with 90% getting “some” payment on time.
- 94% got full payment within four weeks of the “payment due date”.
- 97% got full payment within eight weeks of the due date.
Compared with the last set of DWP figures, this is an improvement in statistical terms. In the week commencing 2 January 2017, only 54% of new claimants got their full payment on time [pdf, p13]. By the week commencing 19 June 2017, this had increased to 77% [pdf, p13].
So yes, the statistics have improved. But the ‘real-world’ impact of 17% of Universal Credit claimants not getting their full payment on time is somewhat different.
Hitting real lives
In February, there were 75,187 new claims for Universal Credit [xls, table 2_1, row 10, column BI]. So that means the DWP failed to pay over 12,700 claimants on time. Compare this with June 2017: while 23% of claimants at that time were not getting their full money on time [pdf, p13], this was actually just over 8,500 claimants [xls, table 2_1, row 10, column BA]. So in terms of the number of claimants affected, the situation has got worse.
What’s more, 3% of claimants were not even getting their full payment within eight weeks of it being due [pdf, p2] in February 2018. This would equate to over 2,250 claimants.
The Canary asked the DWP for comment, but it had not responded at the time of publication.
Stop and scrap it
The figures have shocked writer and activist Charlotte Hughes. She told The Canary:
I think that it is abhorrent that any claimant is still waiting longer than the government target. Five weeks or more is a very long time to have to go without any type of consistent income, even when the eventual income is meagre. Interim loans issued by the DWP have to be paid back… often at a high rate until it’s contested. This leaves claimants and their families dependent upon food banks; ones that cannot keep up with the demand nor issue good, nutritious food. Or claimants rely on the kindness of friends and families.
The result is an endless path of poverty, which ultimately results in stress, illness and often homelessness… The figures just don’t add up. It would be cheaper and more cost effective if every claimant had a much shorter waiting time. This cuts the risk of illness, stress and homelessness – which inevitably costs more in the long run.
The DWP will claim the figures are an improvement. But the fact anyone has to wait for their entitlement is unacceptable. Universal Credit is now a system mired in chaos. It’s surely time for it to be stopped and scrapped.
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