Media Release

SMF briefing on Universal Credit

This Monday 29 April the Government will introduce Universal Credit (UC), its flagship benefits scheme. This SMF briefing gives a background to what will change under UC, sets out who will be affected from Monday, and highlights future issues of concern.

We find that there are major policy dilemmas that are unsolved, especially on Free School Meals, Council Tax Benefit and In-Work Conditionality. Whilst these problems remain, the viability of Universal Credit to achieve its own aims – of simplification and stronger incentives to work – is hugely questionable.

Areas of concern when the UC gets underway include:

  • Monthly payments and housing benefit payments
  • Online capability of claimants
  • Work incentives

Alongside this, there remain key policy decisions that are unresolved:

  • Who will be eligible for Free School Meals
  • The creation of “mini jobs”
  • How  council tax benefit reforms will affect work incentives

Finally, the briefing shows that Monday’s pilot will include many fewer claimants than initially planned, will only include the simplest claims, and will only test limited aspects of the Universal Credit scheme.


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