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Universal Credit: Identity Verification

Volume 664: debated on Monday 7 October 2019

13. How her Department verifies the identity of universal credit claimants who do not have an (a) home, (b) bank account, (c) driving licence and (d) passport. (912572)

It is a priority for this Government to provide swift access to support those who need it, while protecting those same people from potentially fraudulent behaviour. If a claimant does not have the documentary evidence we need, we can verify by using: biographical tests and checks, and information held on the Department’s systems; confirmation of third-party organisations; and two members of jobcentre staff knowing and recognising the claimant as part of their work.

This is not what is happening in practice. Constituents are coming to me who have had their claims denied or who have just been turned away and told, “Go and find the documentation.” Newcastle citizens advice bureau also reflects that. Will the Minister guarantee that no vulnerable claimant will be turned away because of not having the right documentation? Will she write to me with the number of those who have had their claims denied because of a lack of documentation, so we can see the size of the problem?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. I know she is passionate about her constituency. It is absolutely right that there is a balance, but to get a universal credit claim right we need to ensure we verify the identities of all vulnerable people. We heard earlier about the challenge if a claim is made fraudulently. We must be able to understand when there is a particular need to intervene. As we heard earlier, home visits are possible in relation to Help to Claim. If she would like to give me the details, I am very happy to look into this matter further.

The hon. Member for Rugby (Mark Pawsey) can legitimately shoehorn his Question 19 into this exchange.

19. The Secretary of State has referred to the valuable role of citizens advice bureaux, and the Rugby CAB does fantastic work. It has told me about the challenges that clients face when they transition from employment and support allowance to universal credit. Will the Minister assure me that that transition is being sensitively and effectively managed? (912578)

The Department is absolutely committed to making sure that we have the most compassionate and approachable opportunities for people to claim in every single constituency. I have met work coaches—from Scotland to Crawley to Walsall—who are dealing with this day to day, and the Help to Claim scheme backs that up.