Universal Credit switchover to miss 2017 deadline

The switchover to the Government's flagship Universal Credit system will not be fully completed by the 2017 deadline, the Department of Work and Pensions has said.

Labour: Benefit delays show Govt is 'out-of-touch'

Responding to the Government’s admission that Universal Credit behind schedule, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves MP labelled the Coalition as "out-of-touch".

Iain Duncan Smith has today admitted what everyone has known for months – that Universal Credit is massively behind schedule. But just a couple of weeks ago he was telling Parliament the Government would 'roll out Universal Credit on the plan and programme already set out'.

It’s clear that David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have completely failed to get to grips with their flagship welfare reform and millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money have been written off as a result. Families facing a cost-of-living crisis deserve better than this.

– Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves MP

Universal Credit to replace working-age benefits

Universal Credit is designed to simplify the benefits system Credit: PA Wire

Universal Credit, the new single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income, will be rolled out throughout 2013 and will replace benefits such as:

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, the unemployment benefit paid by the government to people who are unemployed and seeking work.

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - for the ill or disabled, ESA offers financial support if you’re unable to work or personalised help so that you can work if you’re able to.

Income Support - for people with no income or a low income who are working less than 16 hours a week and haven’t signed on as unemployed.

Child Tax Credit - can be claimed for each child you’re responsible for if they’re under 16 or under 20 and in approved education or training.

Working Tax Credits - you could qualify if you’re aged 16 or over, work a certain number of hours a week, you get paid for the work you do (or expect to) but your income is below a certain level.

Housing Benefit - to help you pay your rent if you’re on a low income.

Read: What is Universal Credit?

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Universal Credit now live in seven areas of the UK

Universal Credit is now live in seven areas across the UK and will be growing to ten by spring 2014. By the end of next year, the scheme will expand to cover more of the north west.

But the Government has admitted that about 700,000 claimants of a disability benefit will not be transferred to the new Universal Credit before 2017.

The Universal Credit reforms are intended to help people back into work but the Department for Work and Pensions said its priority throughout had been the "safe and smooth" delivery of the new policy.

IDS: We're working to ensure benefit progress goes on

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said the Government is going to get Universal Credit right by bringing it in "carefully and responsibly". His comments come after he admitted the scheme may not be fully rolled out until 2017.

This is a once in a generation reform. And we’re going to get it right by bringing it in carefully and responsibly.

Our approach will ensure that while we continue to enhance the IT for Universal Credit, we will learn from and expand the existing service, so that we fully under stand how people interact with it, and how we can best support them.

Early indications show that people are positive about the new benefit, and my Department is working hard to ensure this good progress continues.

– Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith

Universal Credit may not be fully rolled out until 2017

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has admitted the Government's controversial Universal Credit may not be fully rolled out until 2017, missing its original deadline.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith. Credit: Press Association

The new benefit, which brings together six benefits and tax credits into one, started to be rolled out in Manchester in April.

Read: What is Universal Credit?