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Universal Credit: Torbay

Volume 633: debated on Monday 18 December 2017

14. What assessment he has made of the level of preparedness in Torbay for the roll-out of universal credit. (902991)

We carry out a range of implementation activities well in advance of activation to ensure that sites are well prepared, and we have successfully rolled out to 235 jobcentres to date.

I thank the Minister for his answer. Roll-out of full service universal credit in Torbay is due to happen in September 2018. It is vital that claimants fully understand the system and their options. Will the Minister therefore confirm what work his Department is doing with Torbay’s local advice services to ensure that claimants can easily get such support if needed?

Yes, we are ensuring that stakeholders, including the key advice services, have a proper overview of universal credit, and we work closely with the citizens advice bureau and others. A dedicated employer and partnership team engages directly with local authorities, landlords and others to ensure there is a joined-up approach to supporting claimants.

I will interpret the Minister’s answer as being wide and therefore admitting of other constituencies, although it is not clear beyond peradventure. I will give Members the benefit of the doubt.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. There will be problems in Torbay and elsewhere if the universal credit calculation is wrong. The Minister told me in a written answer that there is no specific initiative called Late, Missing and Incorrect, but it turns out that there is, run jointly by his Department and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Will he confirm that if real-time PAYE—pay-as-you-earn—information is late, missing or incorrect, then the universal credit calculation will be wrong?

We all admire the right hon. Gentleman for his deftness in getting from Torbay to that point. He and I have had quite an extended correspondence in parliamentary questions on the subject of real-time information in its various aspects. Of course we want to continue to make sure that every aspect of universal credit is working entirely as it should, and he has my commitment that we will do so.

The right hon. Gentleman will experience a long journey from East Ham to Torbay. We empathise with him on his long journey.