To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Universal Credit Programme Board minutes, Paper 1, deposited in the Library on 15 April 2021, if she will publish an update on (a) the work of the Universal Credit Complex Needs Steering Group and (b) alternative access to claiming and managing universal credit for people with learning disabilities.
28 April 2021
The Universal Credit Programme Board papers deposited in the Library relate to meetings held between October 2018 and March 2019.
The Universal Credit application process is deliberately designed to be as quick and easy as possible, so that claimants receive money at the earliest opportunity. It has been designed to be a predominantly digital service, ensuring we make best use of technology to deliver a modern and effective working-age welfare system, allowing our staff to concentrate on those people who require additional support. The value of this approach has been clearly demonstrated as the Universal Credit caseload doubled, very rapidly, in the months following the outbreak of the pandemic. Where an individual has difficulties using or accessing our online service, help is available through our Freephone Helpline.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Jobcentre Plus offices across the country remained open to support the most vulnerable claimants, including those with complex needs and learning disabilities. The Department strives to identify individuals who have complex user needs and/or require additional support to enable them to access our services, ensuring we make necessary adjustments for them to be effectively supported by Universal Credit.
In addition, the Department has continued its Help to Claim funding for 2021/22. This service, delivered through Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland, was already a multi-channel offer prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, capable of supporting people through the entire Universal Credit claim through various channels including by telephone and web chat, up to receiving their first full correct payment on time.