Unison have contacted all MPs and councillors in the UK (with a housing benefit service) with their new report: Universal Credit â€“ is an issue for local government. Unison have kindly supplied us with a copy of this report and an extract of the text is as follows;
Why Universal Credit is an issue for local government
In October 2013 the biggest change to the benefits system since 1945 will begin. The changes are profound. Over 1 million people will be affected in the first 6 months alone and by the time the new system is fully in place, in 2017, it will be relied on by as many as 6 million households â€“ 19 million people.
Universal Credit will affect anyone who claims or who will claim
– Child Tax Credit
– Working Tax Credit
– Housing Benefit
– Income Support
– Job Seekers Allowance
– Employment and Support Allowance
– Support for Mortgage Interest
As the Welfare Reform Act made its way through Parliament, politicians were lobbied furiously by charities and others, rightly concerned about the impact on peopleâ€™s income and their ability to meet their housing costs.
But no-one has been talking about the service.
At the moment there are no answers to the following basic questions about the Universal Credit service
– How will someone apply locally?
– Where will they apply locally?
– What documents will they need and where will they take them locally?
– Where will there be a local â€˜Universal Creditâ€™ office be?
– What office accommodation will be used?
– How many staff will be needed?
– How does someone get face to face advice and help if they have a problem?
In fact all the indications are that the Government is not even planning to deliver a local service.
But we know that when things go wrong people will turn to their local council, their local councillor and their local MP for help.
And if people do not get their Universal Credit payment on time, if they lose their home, or they are unable to feed their families the local council will have to step in.
To read the full report please go to the Unison Universal Credit guide and click on resources