SSAC has today (19 September 2014) launched a public consultation on the government’s intention that certain Universal Credit claimants must wait 7 days before they are entitled to benefit.
Announcing the consultation, Paul Gray, the Committee’s Chair, commented:
“The Committee has previously made plain its concerns about the extension of waiting days for anyone making a claim to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). While these proposals may seem to mirror those on which we have already commented, there are important differences which have the potential to cause significant financial difficulties for some claimants. These warrant closer scrutiny.
“For example, larger sums of money could be lost as Universal Credit includes an element for housing costs and children whereas ESA and JSA do not. This is further compounded by the fact that Universal Credit is paid monthly so claimants are generally waiting longer for their first benefit payment. We are keen to learn more about the impact of this proposal.
“The government has stated that the savings generated (estimated to be over £200 million each year from 2016/2017 onwards) will fund other initiatives designed to help people find work, for example by improving English language skills and providing support to lone parents.
The change is intended to commence in April 2015.
The evidence received by SSAC will help inform its report which will be submitted to the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in the autumn.
Responses should be submitted to the Committee’s Secretary by 17 October:
The Committee Secretary
Social Security Advisory Committee
Alternatively they can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
SSAC would like to hear from any organisation or individual who has comments and possible evidence relating to the following specific aspects of these proposals:
- the larger sums of benefit involved, since Universal Credit includes amounts for children, housing costs and child care costs
- the fact that Universal Credit is usually paid monthly in arrears, meaning that claimants will generally wait longer for their first payment of benefit than they would have done under JSA or ESA
- the additional numbers of people affected by this rule – what are the categories of people who would not currently claim ESA or JSA but who will need to claim Universal Credit and how will the waiting day period impact upon them in particular?
- are the prescribed exemptions for certain categories of claimant appropriate?
The proposal includes exemptions for those who are:
- terminally ill
- recent victims of domestic violence
- care leavers
- 16 to 17 year olds without parental support
- discharged prisoners
Linking rules will also provide an exemption for those with previous awards of Universal Credit or contribution-based JSA or contribution-based ESA