Stop Roll Out of Universal Credit, Fix its Impact on Vulnerable People
Decision Maker: Council
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Councillor Tidball, seconded by Councillor Bely-Summers proposed the submitted motion as set out in the agenda and briefing note.
After debate and on being put to the vote, the motion was agreed.
Council resolved to adopt the following motion:
Last month, the National Audit Office report “Rolling out Universal Credit” highlighted a number of urgent problems about the way Universal Credit works in practice and acknowledges that the Department for Work and Pensions has actually dismissed evidence of difficulties and hardship on claimants 'instead of working with these bodies to establish an evidence base for what is actually happening'. Indeed the National Audit Office (NAO) doubts 'it will ever be possible to measure whether the economic goal of increasing employment has been achieved'. This, the extended timescales, and the cost of running Universal Credit compared to the benefits it replaces has caused the NAO to conclude that ‘the project is not value for money now, and that its future value for money is unproven’.
On 18 May 2018, the Council and Oxford & District Action on Child Poverty, held a conference with local stakeholders to share experiences and learning from supporting Oxford residents on receiving Universal Credit. The meeting included advice organisations, housing associations and specialist support providers form the third sector. This reflected the findings of the NAO and showed the desperate impact Universal Credit is having on vulnerable individuals in our City. It also reflected the Council’s own experience in supporting the DWP to deliver Universal Credit. The following are just some of the dire problems with the operation of and hardship caused by Universal Credit:
· some young people in education have had difficulty in claiming Universal Credit, despite being eligible, particularly those in care and with specialist educational needs and disabilities (SEND);
· the inability to claim Universal Credit when in hospital is delaying discharges for many vulnerable groups, including those with mental health problems;
· prisoners are unable to access computers, so cannot learn how to apply for Universal Credit before they are released. Some types of offender may be barred from accessing digital services even when they are not in custody;
· it is difficult for people with disabilities to arrange home visits when they need them in order to be able to make a claim;
· there is insufficient support for claimants with mental health needs;
· those without ICT and literacy skills need a lot more support then DWP say they do;
The explicit consent rule means that it takes advice organisation four times longer to deal with an issue compared to legacy benefits. Oxford City Council is also experiencing significant additional workloads as a result of Universal Credit. Oxford City Council currently has six full time members of staff dealing with these Universal Credit notifications provided by DWP, but the funding provided by DWP for this work doesn’t even cover the costs of one member of staff.
Oxford City Council calls on the government to stop the roll out of universal credit and urgently work to fix its impact on vulnerable people by ensuring the DWP:
1) Immediately reviews the way support is provided for the vulnerable groups highlighted above;
2) Pauses the migration of these customer types while that review is conducted;
3) Urgently reduces the burden of work for local authorities created by the provision of unnecessary notices;
4) Provide funding to local authority software suppliers to automate the administration of the Universal Credit notices;
5) Reviewing the funding arrangements for the work that local authorities are required to do, to support the delivery of Universal Credit. Including, increasing funding for staffing for local authorities supporting migration to UC to a level sufficient to enable local authorities to deliver the effective support for residents migrating to Universal Credit that is needed.
and asks that the Leader makes representations to that effect.
Publication date: 20/08/2018
Date of decision: 23/07/2018
Decided at meeting: 23/07/2018 - Council