Universal Credit Full Service for all types of claimants continues to roll out to plan. It is now being delivered in 50 jobcentres and is the Department’s first fully digital service.
We have been exploring how this technology can, for the first time, offer a simple system of explicit consent (to protect the large amounts of claimant personal information held under Universal Credit) but which is easy to use and takes advantage of the opportunities a digital service can offer. Such a system can be used by third parties and stakeholders representing claimants’ interests, enhancing the service that they can provide for the most vulnerable.
However, it is clear MPs engaging on their constituents’ behalf need constant access to such a system through which they can help their constituents. Today, I have agreed that the implicit consent approach which operates well for all other DWP benefits can be extended to MPs representing the interests of their constituents who are engaging with or directly claiming Universal Credit. We can offer this because of our pre-existing relationships between MPs offices, District Managers and their teams. This is something which cannot pertain for enquiries from other sources.
This means any correspondence – letter, email, or telephone enquiries – from MPs on behalf of a constituent relating to Universal Credit will be answered directly, without a requirement to seek explicit consent from their constituent. This will ensure consistency and clarity for MP offices, no matter what benefit the enquiry is about.
Extending this support for MPs and their constituents will continue to help enable the successful delivery of this key welfare reform programme.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords