Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that there has been only 5,250 Universal Credit ‘starters’ between April 2013 and 31 January 2014.
A ‘Starter’ is described as an individual who has completed the Universal Credit claim process, attended an interview with a ‘work coach’ and received at least one payment.
According to the DWP the majority of Universal Credit starters are male (with a ratio of around 7:3) and 7 out of 10 new claims came from unemployed people under the age of 25.
Of the 5,250 ‘starters’, 4,640 were still claiming Universal Credit on 31 January 2014.
Oldham has the largest number of people on Universal Credit (1,360) with Wigan coming in a close second (1,030) followed by Warrington (910) and Tameside (790). The remainder come from other towns/cities and Job Centre’s.
The coalition government’s flagship welfare reform has been slow to get off the ground. Launched as a ‘pathfinder’ programme in areas in the North West, Universal Credit initially began in only four towns/cities (Ashton-under-Lyne, Oldham, Warrington and Wigan), before being rolled-out to a further six sites between October 2013 and spring 2014.
Universal Credit is replacing a number of in-work and out-of-work benefits and tax credits including Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support (IS), Working Tax Credit (WTC), Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.