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Universal Credit

Volume 558: debated on Tuesday 5 February 2013

I am pleased to announce that later today the Government will publish the Command Paper: “Government’s response to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee’s third report of Session 2012-13—Universal Credit implementation: meeting the needs of vulnerable claimants”.

On 22 November 2012 the Work and Pension Select Committee published its third report of Session 2012-13, following its enquiry into the implementation of universal credit and plans for meeting the needs of vulnerable claimants.

The Government welcome the ongoing interest of the Work and Pensions Select Committee in this fundamental reform of welfare provision and delivery. Although the report was not received until after the principal universal credit regulations were near to being finalised, we have carefully monitored the progress of the inquiry and considered the evidence presented to the Committee alongside the policy development and service design for universal credit and will continue to do so.

By removing the barriers and disincentives to work that exist within the current system, universal credit will make sure work pays—especially for those on the lowest incomes, helping people to live independent lives. This will reduce worklessness, and encourage people to take personal responsibility. Work can transform individual lives and society for the better and should be encouraged. It is therefore important that we allow claimants to make the same sorts of decisions as those in work and support people to move towards greater independence.

The Government however recognise the Committee’s concerns about the impact changes to the existing welfare system may have on claimants with complex needs. From the very start of the development of the policy, we have been absolutely clear that we must and will protect the interests of those who are in vulnerable circumstances or will face challenges in dealing with the new system.

The Government’s response to the Select Committee’s report details how we will provide support for vulnerable claimants, including helping with access to the online system and offering alternative channels for those who need it; ensuring personal budgeting support is in place to enable claimants to take financial responsibility and having alternative payment arrangements for those who need them. We have also confirmed our commitment to continuing work with Government Departments and devolved Administrations on how they operate passported benefits both in the short and longer term.

A copy of the Government’s response will also be available later today on the Department for Work and Pensions website at: