The Government will launch the first pilot test of a new benefit system called Universal Credit in Ashton-under-Lyne today.
It seeks to simplify the existing system by combining six benefits into one, but opponents say it is misleading.
ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener reports:
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has defended Universal Credit's system of monthly payments, saying the reform was about "changing people."
He told Radio 4's Today programme:
We keep completely flexible. We need to try and get people on monthly managed payments.
Hugely when people who have been out of work for a while who go back into work who are not on monthly payments, most companies now pay monthly, and it's important to get them ready for that.
Often when they go to work they crash out of work because they can't cope with being paid monthly.
But Mr Duncan Smith said he would work with local councils to make sure the vulnerable do not go on to monthly payments immediately.
If they do have problems about drug addiction, surely what we should be doing, which this system will, is to trigger them into some form of treatment, to get them off their drugs, to get them settled.
They are not going to survive in work if they can't manage a benefit payment.
What we have to do is start changing people and that's what this system is about.
Liam Byrne MP, Labour's Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, has said that Universal Credit is a “kick in the teeth for workers."
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme:
The way it's been designed means that about two million people who are in work will actually see the amount of help they get they get cut.
The way Universal Credit is being delivered is actually going to lock in a kind of strivers' tax for working people.
Mr Byrne also warned that the payment of the benefit in one go at the end of the month could mean families get "pushed under".
If you are saying to people we are only going to pay you in arrears and you are going to have to wait until the end of the month to get anything, there are some really live risks that lots and lots of families are just going to be pushed under.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said that Universal Credit will be rolled out gradually "to ensure that as we go along we rectify any issues we discover."
He added: "In the old days, under the last government, we had the big bang process. Those days are gone. We need to do this carefully."
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said that Universal Credit "will get people over the threshold and back into work."
– Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud
The start of Universal Credit today is a big step forward. We are finally implementing a benefit system that is fairer, where claimants will be better off in work than on benefits.
We are introducing Universal Credit in a slow and safe manner so that we get this important reform right and help more people move smoothly from benefits and into work.
IDS: “Government is on the side of people who want to work hard and get on.” #UniversalCredit
IDS: “We will bring in this radical and vital reform in a careful and controlled way.” #UniversalCredit
Another major step forward on welfare reform today with the introduction of Universal Credit - this Govt is determined to make work pay.