Agenda item

UNIVERSAL CREDIT

From 20 June 2018, working-age households, with up to two children, across the Bradford District became eligible to claim Universal Credit.

 

The Strategic Director Corporate Resources will submit a report

(Document “AC”) which examines the progress of, and future plans for, the roll out of Universal Credit, its impact, and the arrangements in place to support claimants.

 

Recommended –

 

That Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee;

 

(1)       Note progress made in the development of arrangements to       support residents, and in responding to adverse impacts on       Council service delivery.

 

(2)       Consider the issues raised in this report, the likely impacts on the         district’s residents, the Council, and other providers and agencies   and provide any comments and views for consideration by the         local delivery partnership.

(Martin Stubbs - 01274  432056)

 

 

Decision:

Resolved –

 

(1)       That this Committee welcomes the report and requests a further           report which focuses on the impact of Universal Credit on the         most vulnerable residents of the district and also include the   impact on Housing and Homelessness Service.

 

(2)       That this Committee requests that Bradford Council officers       contact the Department for Works and Pensions, both locally and            nationally to consider ways of mitigating sanctions for people           who do not have access to Information Technology.

 

ACTION: Strategic Director Corporate Services

 

(Martin Stubbs – 01274 432056)

Minutes:

From 20 June 2018, working-age households, with up to two children, across the Bradford District became eligible to claim Universal Credit.

 

The Strategic Director Corporate Resources submitted a report

(Document “AC”) which examined the progress of, and future plans for, the roll out of Universal Credit, its impact, and the arrangements in place to support claimants.

 

The Assistant Director Revenues and Benefits stated that many current housing benefit claimants will, over time, have a change in their circumstances and will be required to claim Universal Credit, a process known as natural migration.  He added that challenges remained and how more vulnerable or disabled claimants will be affected by Universal Credit remained to be seen, however the Council would be working with the Citizens Advice Bureau to ensure the right level of support was provided.

 

During the discussion a Member stated that in terms of access to digital support and the informal support provided by Libraries and Community Centres, how was this factored and supported through the Universal Credit process.  In response it was explained that the figures provided on digital support were purely done via the agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions, any informal arrangements were not factored in.  The Assistant Director acknowledged that more work could be done with Libraries and Children’s Centres in terms of how much digital support was provided to Universal Credit claimants.

 

The Chair of the Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee was present at the meeting and stated that many claimants had no access to IT or email and they could lose out under the new system, and that there was no mention about vulnerability within the report.  In response it was stated that under Universal Credit there was a need to own a email and additional support was required to facilitate this.

 

A Member commented that Universal Credit was an ill thought out welfare system and would adversely affect some of the most vulnerable in our communities.  He also raised an issue around payment to a single person in the household, and that this could have a detrimental impact in situations where there was an issue around domestic violence or coercion. 

 

He added that the new benefit had also seen a spike in the number of people resorting to using food banks as well as the potential to be evicted by the landlord when payments were late, which in turn would exacerbate the homelessness situation.

 

The Assistant Director acknowledged there were issues with the new benefit and as a Council we would try and provide the necessary support, especially to the most vulnerable and try and build additional protections, where possible.

 

Resolved –

 

(1)       That this Committee welcomes the report and requests a further           report which focuses on the impact of Universal Credit on the         most vulnerable residents of the district and also include the   impact on Housing and Homelessness Service.

 

(2)       That this Committee requests that Bradford Council officers       contact the Department for Works and Pensions, both locally and            nationally to consider ways of mitigating sanctions for people           who do not have access to Information Technology.

 

ACTION: Strategic Director Corporate Services

 

Supporting documents: