Figures released today (13 August 2014) by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that only 6,570 people were claiming Universal Credit by the end of May 2014.
The figure represents a tiny increase of just 570 people on the previous month and has risen by only 2,810 since December 2013.
Over 6 in 10 of new claims for Universal Credit are for people aged under 25 and male claimants outnumber women by 7 to 3.
DWP figures also show that the number of ‘new starters’ has fallen from a high of 1,150 in January 2014 to a meagre 540 in May 2014. In total 8,500 people have ‘started’ on Universal Credit Between April 2013 and 31 May 2014.
Only 28 Jobcentre offices are currently delivering Universal Credit, over half of which will not yet be included in DWP statistics, however the DWP say that they will gradually roll-out the new benefit to more areas over the next few years.
The latest figures will no doubt fuel speculation that Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship welfare reform is failing.
Labour said that they would pause the roll-out of Universal Credit, if they win a majority in the 2015 general election, and ask the National Audit Office (NAO) “to do a warts-and-all report on it”.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Rachel Reeves MP, has not ruled out scrapping Universal Credit if Labour win the next general election, but said that she would prefer to “get a grip on this incredibly important programme”.
Universal Credit is replacing six existing benefits, including Housing Benefit and Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), with a single monthly payment.