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Stephen Crabb vows to implement Universal Credit

The new Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb has said he is committed to implementing the Government's controversial Universal Credit reform.

The single payment will replace six current benefits including Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance. However, critics say that it will hit the poor the hardest.

In his first speech since replacing Iain Duncan Smith, Stephen Crabb also said he believed in a fair society where it shouldn't matter what street you grow up on.

ITV News Social Affairs Editor Penny Marshall has visited Stephen Crabb's constituency in Pembrokeshire to hear what people think:

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Serwotka: 'Obvious that staff are under-resourced'

Almost four out of five Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union members did not feel there were enough staff and two thirds said they were frequently asked to work overtime, said the union.

It has long been obvious that staff are under-resourced and under-trained and that universal credit is at risk of collapse. The DWP cannot keep burying its head in the sand and hope these problems go away because they are only going to get worse if nothing is done.

– PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said

More than half said they did not think Universal Credit was an improvement for claimants.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "The PCS survey comprises of only 13% of our 2,700 staff working on Universal Credit. They chose to ignore staff in our Jobcentres when conducting this research providing a skewed unrepresentative sample of union members."

Flagship Universal Credit in 'disarray' study finds

A study has found that Universal Credit, one of the Government's flagship policies, is in "disarray", suffering from a lack of staff, poor training and inadequate IT.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka says staff are under-resourced. Credit: PA

A survey of around 400 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union showed that 90% believed expensive IT systems dealing with the benefit were less than adequate. Almost three quarters said working conditions were worse than in their previous role and four in five said the training was less than adequate to prepare them for working on the scheme.

'Universal Credit under budget and helping people'

Iain Duncan Smith has defended the Universal Credit scheme, claiming it is under budget and helping people find work quicker and earn more.

Iain Duncan Smith speaking to Andrew Marr. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

The flagship scheme - which merges existing income-based benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and tax credits into a single payment - is due to be rolled out across the country tomorrow.

The Work and Pensions Secretary denied claims the flagship scheme was over budget, insisting his department was spending £600 million less on the programme than expected.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, he said Government research showed that those receiving the benefit were 5% more likely to find employment within four months than comparable JSA claimants.

Labour said the scheme was massively behind schedule and saving far less than expected, describing the roll-out as a "spiralling waste and delays".

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Labour: IDS has broken his promises on Universal Credit

Labour have said the Government is falling far short of the numbers of people it said would be moved on to the new Universal Credit scheme.

Chris Bryant, shadow welfare reform minister, said: "Iain Duncan Smith has repeatedly broken his promises on Universal Credit. He promised a million people would be claiming Universal Credit by April 2014, but the latest figures show fewer than 15,000 people are claiming the new benefit.

"Today Iain Duncan Smith promised 100,000 people will be on Universal Credit by May 2015. But that's only around 1% of the total number of people who are expected to claim the new benefit."

Universal Credit 'on track to move people into work'

A new government report suggest trials of the Universal Credit welfare reform show it is on track to help people into work.

The study from the Department for Work and Pensions found those on the scheme were working more over a six-month period, while two-thirds said it offered better incentives to work.

The Universal Credit is being trialled in some job centres at the moment. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The department says the scheme will deliver £35bn in economic benefits over 10 years after it is fully implemented.

The new credit is still in its early stages and will be available in over 90 job centres by this Christmas.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: : "Universal Credit will help people into work more quickly and help them to earn more, giving people the confidence that work always pays, along with the economic security of a regular pay packet."

Further expansion of Universal Credit to start next week

The Government's Universal Credit programme will roll out across more JobCentres from the beginning of next week.

The new payment, which combines six means-tested benefits and tax credits into one benefit, will be expanded across the north-west of England.

The latest figures show that up to March of this year, 6,550 people had claimed Universal Credit.

Universal credit scheme now considered as 'reset'

Iain Duncan Smith's universal credit scheme has been given a unique classification in an annual progress report issued by the Government.

Although many of the projects are listed as being "exempt" from publishing a green, red or amber risk (most citing the Freedom of Information Act as the reason), the universal credit scheme is the only one to be listed as "Reset".

During 2013, the Programme was reset, culminating in the revised plans announced on 5 December 2013.

– Major Projects Authority annual report 2014

The lack of transparency was highlighted by The Independent, which claimed the Major Project Authority had rated universal credit as “red”, signifying that it is “unachievable within reasonable timescales and to a reasonable budget without urgent remedial action”.

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