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A detailed background to the use

and implications of the Universal
Credit social security support,
recently introduced by the UK
government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

Gail Ward Disability Campaigner
8/21/2017
A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

Contents

1. Background to Universal Credit

2. Initial Live Rollout

3. Full Rollout

4. The Process of the Claimant Journey

5. Claimant Commitment

6. Universal Support

7. Pitfalls

8. Credits

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

Background to Universal Credit

Benefits to be included:

● Income Support

● income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

● income-related Employment Support Allowance

● Housing Benefit

● Working Tax Credit

● Child Tax Credit

According to Lord Freud1, when he was advisor to previous Labour administration,
they took his report 2006 and took on board elements of it but; failed to commission
an investigation into his radical Welfare Reforms due to the time scale, and civil
servants raised doubts over the ambitious timetable needed to commission such an
investigation. Labour gave Freud ownership over his report in 2006. He also stated
that the government's biggest mistake was outsourcing the IT structure in early
1990’s as this needed to be part of the operating system to deliver such a large
project both in UK and globally.

The government found three areas of difficulty when it came to skill specialities they
needed to buy in which were; Project Management, IT, and Contracts. He also
stated that implementation was harder than expected. Looking at the issues of the
Welfare trap and Poverty trap in his 2006 report led to him suggesting the system
needed simplifying to correct incentives, which he felt was occurring between a

1
http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/work-and-
pensions-committee/universal-credit-update/oral/46960.pdf

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

system that supported people into work and the safety net for those who needed it.
His welfare reforms were taken up by a Tory government in 2010. He claims recent
problems with Universal Credit stem from issues highlighted by Ministers, and the
reported figures should be viewed with caution as they tended to level out. The
overall cost of Universal Credit on completion is projected to be £2.7 billion but as
the system is constantly reviewed and adjusted the current cost so far are £1.7
billion.

Initial Rollout

Universal Credit was started with single people in the North West of the UK via pilots
at 4 Jobcentres in what is known as ‘Live Areas’, and then developed to include
couples, also using what he termed a ‘Test and Learn’ process. This was decided so
if any problems arose in these ‘simple’ claims they could be adjusted accordingly to
ensure that the IT structure was working effectively as well as operationally.

Once this was satisfied it was rolled out across UK incrementally, after being subject
to a reset in 2013. Freud also said recently (in a committee hearing on February 8 th
2017) that he no longer believed the odd structure between Politicians, Ministers and
Civil Servants was workable, and that policy and implementation cannot be divided.
Freud also described that while timetables were needed, ‘slips’ should be expected
on such a huge project, and that rather than being seen negatively it was best to get
things right. Freud stated that Ministers didn’t understand the enormous structure of
welfare, and that often the relationship between the Treasury and DWP was a
complex issue. Cameron didn’t understand Osborne’s argument.

The projected savings on a year by year basis is expected to be 7 billion once rollout
of Universal Credit is complete, and much more beneficial to the economy as a
whole. (This claim is dubious, as whilst it works as a snapshot, it cannot be
calculated given the interaction of the economy, the employment market and the

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

benefit system, and the fluctuations of all three variables, plus the unknown levels of
on and off-flows created). These calculations are based on static numbers and that
there would be winners and losers on Universal Credit and that they were ‘flying
blind’ on its effects on claimants. Working claimants would be brought in line with
those out of work - so effectively could become financial losers, whilst the behaviour
changes and incentives could encourage people into work, but could also penalise
those already working.

Recent reports showing length of time people had to wait between first payments
and housing were highlighted by some local authorities: Croydon, Essex, and
Newcastle reported that it created debt issues, particularly regarding housing
payments.2 Lord Freud urged caution to figures raised, as high as 86%, but of those
79% were already in arrears. The DWP were investigating the matter with some
urgency and spent a lot of time looking at the issue. He also highlighted data issues
under data protection being looked at with respect to the LMI claims and payments,
(late, missing, incorrect) due to issues around linking DWP, HMRC, Banks, and the
IT system.

Full Rollout

Full Roll out is expected across UK by September 2018. The Managed Migration of
those on legacy systems will begin after a pause between September 2018-July
2019. The Core data will be completed by March 2022.

1 in 5 Landlords were reticent to let to claimants as they feared rent arrears would
cause many Housing Associations and Local Authorities to collapse, but Lord Freud
claims they are now ‘coming around to the idea’, with a signed agreement to support

2
http://www.strathspey-herald.co.uk/News/Highland-Council-chiefs-attack-flawed-Universial-Credit-
11072017.htm

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

claimants into work under the ‘Universal Support’ structure which consists of
managing three key areas;

1. Digital programme
2. Competence
3. Personal Budgeting support

Transitional Protection will be given to those on Managed Migration and data issues
were again raised with tackling barriers to work for some which was suggested that
claimants could voluntarily give data, which would be anonomised to enable them to
get support throughout the claimant journey step by step with their work coaches
under the claimant commitment process. Lord Freud did not know the history which
leads to the Claimant Commitment which all claimants have to commit to claim UC.

Those affected the most according to ministers on the work and pensions committee
were the following;

1. Single working claimants inc disabled
2. Parents of disabled children
3. Carers
4. Single parents
Disabled people will see a reduction in elements of Universal Credit although they
could see rise in other elements. Severe Disability Premium will result in a loss of
£62.45 a week for those living on the own, and £124.90 for couples unless someone
gets Carer’s Allowance then the single rate will continue, providing you get middle or
high rate care component of DLA, or the standard or enhanced Daily Living rate of
PIP. It should be noted that Disabled people in work have already lost the Disabled
Tax Credit, replaced by Working Tax Credits.

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

The Process of the Claimant Journey

Image courtesy of DWP3

The above graphic explains how the process should work; however, this is often not
the case. Many are finding difficulty of transitioning from fortnightly payments to
monthly payments, a struggle especially around Housing elements and some are
reporting that this is leaving them in arrears with threat of eviction from landlords. In

3
http://player.slideplayer.com/32/9906475/#
© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

some cases they are expected to pay housing costs on dates their payments are due
in tenancy agreements, and potentially can lead to further pressures due to the
process and administration process.

The reality on the ground is a difficult one due to the nature of the complex number
of hurdles a claimant has to complete. When a claimant has to claim UC they have
to apply online, which for some is an impossible task for a variety of reasons, lack of
internet access, lack of libraries( many have closed), difficulties in travelling to
nearest JCP (also many being closed down) and the competence of understanding
the online questions, and digital access skills.

Initially UC is being rolled out for single people only until the cohort is completed,
then expanded to couples thereafter in the ‘Live’ area which also has Gateway
conditions applied. Under a ‘Live’ system some cannot claim UC due to eligibility and
remain on legacy benefits until ‘Full Service’ is rolled out which removes Gateway
conditions allowing people to claim. The ‘7 days waiting’ envelope which is adding to
problems on the ground leaving many six weeks and longer for a first payments to
arrive in their bank accounts. These payments cover everything the claimant needs
and includes any housing elements. Disabled people in the previous WRAG group
lose £30wk and those in Support Group lose the SDP £62.45 wk mentioned above.
This is a considerable financial cut for those who are already on long term
subsistence level incomes, and SDP is only paid to those who are living alone and in
need of help. The SDP has always been recognised as essential income to alleviate
some of the additional issues people who live alone face, due to disability or chronic
sickness.

Many welfare advisors are also finding this process difficult due to the fact the
Government is running existing legacy benefits, the UC ‘live system’ and ‘full
service’ system alongside each other, making it very complex when they get clients
asking for assistance. Element reductions/removal are often a result of error on the
part of the DWP, as legacy benefits are being ignored, and claims being considered

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

as ‘new claims’ which are at a reduced rate, and this is then causing severe distress
to many claimants, leaving them in further financial difficulty to make up any
shortfalls in their incomes. Working tax credits, tapers for those in work do not help
implementation of the government’s living wage introduction or the raising of tax
thresholds, with everyday rising costs which negates any gains and are seen by
claimants as a loss of income. Homeowners will see the housing element of SMI
(Supported Mortgage Interest) turn into a loan which will be required to be paid back
once back in employment. This will be further compounded by the present benefit
cap and the further family cap reductions in 2018. 4

Many are barely surviving leading to multiple visits to food banks which are being
limited to 3 visits a year under the Trussell Trust and a voucher referral scheme,
administered by professionals nominated, but more generous in independent
schemes across the UK where this scheme doesn’t operate. This is now being seen
as another extension of the welfare state and becoming the ‘norm’. Living on food
bank donations short term is a seriously undesirable and insecure state, but long
term it will lead to a health time bomb for our health service and child development
with many patients already being seen with, malnutrition and further ill health
issues.5

Claimant Commitment

This is part of the process of claiming Universal Credit which ‘all’ claimants have to
sign to get money to live on; the government aims to get claimants nearer to the job

4
https://blueannoyed.wordpress.com/2017/03/
5
https://secondreading.uk/social-policy/testing-times-for-universal-credit/

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

market and into employment which ideally should be ‘Making work pay’. Many jobs
are often on minimum wage, zero hour contracts within 90 minutes of the claimant’s
home. In rural areas this is posing some issues due to poor transport and for
disabled people that may not be accessible let alone fact that many are losing
mobility vehicles under PIP process which would enable them to do so. Part of this
process is the Health & Work Conversation with a designated Work Coach. This is
to; help the claimant navigate the barriers to work (which can be agreed between
claimant and work coach), to look at the whole person, and to make the Claimant
Commitment accommodate and overcome any barriers to work. This is done by what
is termed by ministers ‘Universal Support’ with work coach specialists. Failure to
engage will result in loss of income or sanctions.6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

This is integral to Health and Work Programme being rolled out, as highlighted in the
government's Green Paper 2016.14

This is to be rolled out later this year, supposedly, and the white paper which was
due in June 2017 thus far has not materialised, however I believe that this is being
done under statute instruments to existing Universal Credit Legislation 2013. 15

This conversation for those particularly in support group is meant to be voluntary
(with no work requirements under present ESA) however once the claimant has
engaged it then becomes mandatory requirement to either attend a WFI or engage

6
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/398247/response/972681/attach/2/1341%20Reply.pdf
7
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/301588/response/743734/attach/4/FOI%204794%20part
%202.pdf
8
https://blueannoyed.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/the-health-work-programme-is-work-really-a-health-
outcome/
9
https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/debbie-abrahams/dangerous-new-changes-planned-to-
force-sick-people-into-work-or-into-poverty
10
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/specialist-disability-employment-support
11
https://www.scribd.com/document/353595888/UC-Orders
12
https://www.scribd.com/document/353595852/CC-O18-E15
13
https://www.scribd.com/document/353594773/4c-ESAHWC1
14
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/564038/work-and-health-
green-paper-improving-lives.pdf
15
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/376/pdfs/uksi_20130376_310515_en.pdf
© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

with Telephone or Skype to complete tasks laid out in their claimant commitment
which they have to agree too with a work coach, failure to comply can lead to loss of
income via sanctions @£10.40 a day.16 17 18 (19)19

It is a worrying issue as many in the support group (48%) are people with ‘chronic ill
health’ such as long term progressive illnesses /terminally ill claimants which is not
mentioned in this policy just as it was omitted in ESA policy. These people are
identified as being furthest away from the job market with just 20% who will have no
work requirements under Universal Credit. Specialist Work Programme coaches will
assist these people it is perceived via various options available to the work coach.
Those in work and off sick will be engaged via the government's ‘Fit for Work’
process and will be encouraged to return more quickly or seek more hours if part
time which the government has set at 48 hours a week. The latter will lead to a WCA
at 4 weeks whereas disabled people will continue to have WCA upon starting their
claim as previously required under the previous regime of ESA. Claimants will have
to log daily Into the government’s UJM (Universal Job Match) system to log what
they have done to show continued entitlement and provide evidence of the 35 hour
week job search requirement set by government as part of their claimant
commitment.

Having done the training with more to follow December 2017, In my humble opinion
this will cause untold damage to many and potentially pushing many into further long
term abject poverty and debt, homelessness and possible suicides never previously
seen on an unprecedented scale especially those who are suffering from mental
health issues or unable to cope with the brutal conditionality of the claimant

16
https://blueannoyed.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/universal-credit-the-conversation-nobody-is-talking-
about/
17
https://www.scribd.com/document/352763488/Universal-Credit-and-APAs
18
https://www.scribd.com/document/353603319/1359203507-UJcompanyleafletJCP
19
https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2017/07/06/health-work-conversation-behavioural-science-tools-info-
disclosed-that-seek-only-true-appropriate-answers/

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

commitment process. With jobcentre and advice bureau’s closing this will lead to
higher claimant costs and travelling issues, especially if they have lost mobility cars
via PIP. This is a sanction driven policy. Many claimants are also suffering from
issues of social care since ILF was closed, and I genuinely fear this may open the
door via housing benefit/pension credit/carer’s allowance, SMI (supported mortgage
Interest payments) for homeowners being turned into repayable loans, to what has
been termed ‘Dementia Tax’ to cover social care costs which are means tested. In
2018 the Family Cap will be rolled out for families to the government's two child
policy which limits payments to those with larger families and the abomination called
the ‘Rape Clause’ for those who have children via rape where they must prove it was
not consensual. Domestic Violence claimants can apply under the Alternative
Payment Arrangement (APA)( which can split UC payments if the abusive partner
uses money as a tool of abuse, this can also be used for those unable to manage
finances such as learning disabilities.

Universal Credit is designed to remove the stigma of in work and out of work benefits
making them equal status and direct money to those with greatest need.

This is a more punitive regime than ESA as the last link shows documents where
sanctions are mentioned so many times in one document , it is intimidating and
threatening which will leave many in more fear than they already are and could
possibly be a trigger between life or death choices for some.

While I appreciate the scope of the UN Powers urgent action is needed to make the
Government take heed, I fear that this will not happen unless a change in
government happens. There is more than enough evidence linked here in this
document which leads to further reading to show what an abomination this really is. 20
21 2223

20
http://press.labour.org.uk/post/161390663759/labour-launches-manifesto-with-and-for-disabled
21
https://spartacusnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/richardsonbenstead-smokescreen-2017.pdf
© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

Universal Support

This part of Universal Credit is well meaning but it also is potentially intimidating for
claimants. Work Coaches need to identify those with need for extra support such as ;

• Mental health issues

• Learning difficulties

• Drug or alcohol addiction

• Homelessness

• English language limitations

• Literacy difficulties

• Prisoners & Detainees

• 16 and 17 year olds

• Non EEA - including refugees

• Physical disabilities

• Working abroad

• Domestic violence victims

• Sensory disabilities

• Severely indebted

22
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/welfare%20publications/Delivering%20on%20Univ
ersal%20Credit%20-%20report.pdf
23
http://central-government.governmentcomputing.com/news/dwp-rejects-charity-universal-credit-pause-
calls-over-id-fears-5866311
© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

• Over 18 care leavers

• Gambling addiction

• MAPPA claimants

• Numeracy difficulties

• Supported by the Troubled Families programme

• Rural isolation

then refer them to the appropriate service which will help them move to be
independent from the state and managing their money till the next payment, and
move closer to the job market through government holistic support.

78% claimants according to the government survey are familiar with online claims.
Those who are not will be supported to digital services, learning, but for those where
that isn’t possible there will still be a service available. This appears to make it part
of conditionality process when they have the health and work conversation which is
mandatory when the claimant signs their claimant commitment. This is the ‘Nanny
State’ in action and must contravene the Human Rights Act as well as possibly the
Equality Act. This is using coercion which will dictate income and sanctions on a
claimant's behaviour to nudge them in the direction the government sees fit. This
removes choice. 24 25

24
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/181395/uc-local-service-
support-framework.pdf
25
https://www.scribd.com/document/353614581/Personal-Budgeting-Support-Guidance
© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

15
A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

Images Courtesy of DWP

26 27 28 29 30 31 32
See Links below for more information on work conditionality

26
https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/the-politics-of-punishment-and-blame-in-work-
conditionality/
27
https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-
pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/universal-credit-15-16/
28
https://www.scribd.com/document/353621549/31676
29
https://www.scribd.com/document/353621607/31678
30
http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/work-and-pensions-
committee/universal-credit-inwork-progression/written/31677.html
31
https://www.scribd.com/document/353627563/HWC-Exemptions
32
https://www.scribd.com/document/353627712/UC-Monthly-Rates-v5-0
© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

Pitfalls

“UC introduces a work allowance for each household: this is an amount of money
that each household can earn without any benefits being withdrawn. The work
allowance creates a stronger incentive to move into jobs with low earnings than does
the current system, although in some cases it incentivises only relatively short hours
of work and creates little incentive to move beyond that. There is no direct
replacement in the structure of UC for existing hours rules, instead, a system of in-
work conditionality will be introduced to prevent people from working low hours
through a mix of support and sanctioning by Jobcentre Plus. Non-working single
parents, families without children and those with a disability or caring responsibilities
are overall generally worse off with more families losing than gaining. A large group
of losers with a disability or caring responsibility are expected to lose no more than 5
per cent of their total income. Transitional Protection will be in place to help families
who will lose income when moving from the current system to UC. Interestingly, the
overall number of workless households has been falling over the last two decades,
leaving worklessness (where no-one in a household works) as principally a problem
among single parents, particularly those with young children, and households of
people aged 50 to 64 who are either sick or disabled or have retired early. Similarly
those entitled to the caring or disabled elements also have greater losses as they
claim more elements of UC and have a greater reliance on benefit income. These
losses amount to up to 5 per cent of net income in 2018. ” This policy is designed to
deliberately cause harm to many disabled people and illustrates why the bio
psychosocial model needs to be stopped.

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

17
A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

The image below taken from IFS illustrates winners and losers.33

33
https://www.ifs.org.uk/conferences/uc2011_jin.pdf

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

18
A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

This is illustration from Resolution Foundation 34

34
http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/app/uploads/2015/03/Universal-Credit-interim-report1.pdf
© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

These are the core things that the UN need to investigate in full, and pass the
information to those who can ‘act’ to prevent more deaths, despair, deprivation, of
citizens of the UK government, they are out of control when it comes to abusing UK
citizens human rights on a daily basis as well as disabled people and the chronically
ill. Many claimants and low paid workers are losing hope and the will to keep going.
No-one expects a free ride living off the state, but they do expect to be treated fairly,
with dignity and respect. Assessments are necessary when money is coming from
the public purse, naturally the government of any country is expected to be held to
account for it by taxpayers. Work will not set people free from the welfare and
poverty traps they find themselves in, just plunge them further into it as ministers
already admitted in transcript by Lord Freud himself, yet denies it is ideologically
driven to save money and those who don’t make it are seen as collateral damage
when it benefits their dangerous ideology which has human consequences, putting
profit over human life as stated in Mo Stewarts Book ‘Cash Not Care’ and her report
‘State Crime by Proxy’ which is linked in this document. Spartacus Report
‘Smokescreen’ on the green paper also linked.35 36 37 38 39

35
https://spartacusnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/richardsonbenstead-smokescreen-2017.pdf
36
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314045256_STATE_CRIME_BY_PROXY_corporate_influence_on_
state_sanctioned_social_harm_An_independent_report
37
https://intensiveactivity.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/labour-needs-to-develop-an-alternative-to-universal-
credit-and-the-benefit-freeze/
38
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/a-new-social-security-system-for-a-new-world-of-work-rxhgdf97n#_=_
39
http://www.newgeneration-publishing.com/bookstore/politics/bookdetails/1749
© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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A detailed background to the use and implications of the Universal Credit social
security support, recently introduced by the UK government, which will cause
identified preventable harm.

Credits

I would like to personally thank

1. C Richardson for help on my poor office skills and access to Spartacus
Smokescreen report
2. Mo Stewart for granting permission for use of her research
3. Mr Frank Zola for his excellent blog on the workings of Universal Credit

© 2017 Written by Gail Ward

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