Universal credit consultations
The Scottish Social Security Committee are currently seeking views on the Social Security (Scotland) Bill.
The Bill aims to provide a framework for the creation of the Scottish social security system. Most of the rules about new benefits will be in Regulations.The Committee have posed a number of questions on their website about the Bill and written submissions are welcome up to 23 August 2017.
- Department of Education Northern Ireland – Consultation on eligibility criteria for free school meals and uniform grants
The Department of Education Northern Ireland launched a consultation on proposed changes to the eligibility criteria for free school meals and uniform grants. The main proposal was an earnings limit to be introduced for Universal Credit claimants (UC is due to roll-out in Northern Ireland from September 2017). The deadline for responses was 5 June 2017.
- Work and Pensions Committee – inquiry into the impact of the Benefit Cap
The Committee launched an inquiry into the Benefit Cap and how it affects British Households. The deadline for written submissions was 7 April 2017.
The Committee asked for submissions that answered the following questions:
- The cap is intended to incentivise behavioural change amongst claimants and secure savings for the Exchequer. To what extent is it achieving that?
- To what extent has claimant behaviour responded to the cap, through moving into work, moving house etc? What effect does the lower cap have on incentives, what are the barriers to behavioural change and how can they be overcome?
- Does the cap address high underlying rates of housing benefit and child maintenance in a fair way?
- What are the consequential costs of the cap for other public spending, such as that by local authorities?
- What are the consequences for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) and what impact does use of DHPs have on behavioural change?
- Are there unintended consequences (either positive or negative) of the cap?
Due to the general election on 8 June 2017, the Committee closed the inquiry. However, they did publish written evidence received in response to the inquiry on their website.
Following compelling evidence of the problems in the roll-out of UC in its recent follow-up work, the Committee re-launched its inquiry and was accepting written submissions up to 20 March 2017. The Committee were interested in submissions that answer the following questions:
- How long are people waiting for their Universal Credit claim to be processed, and what impact is this having on them?
- How are claimants managing with being paid Universal Credit monthly in arrears?
- Has Universal Credit improved the accuracy of payments?
- Have claimants reported making a new claim for Universal Credit, and then found that the system has not registered their claim correctly?
- What impact is Universal Credit having on rent arrears, what effect is this having on landlords and claimants, and how could the situation be improved?
- Would certain groups benefit from greater payment process flexibility and, if so, what might the Government do to facilitate it?
- Does Universal Credit provide people in emergency temporary accommodation with the support they need, and how could this be improved?
- What impact is Universal Credit having on the income and costs of local authorities, housing associations, charities and other local organisations?
- How well is Universal Support working, and how could it been improved?
- What impact has the introduction of full Universal Credit service had in areas where it has replaced the live service?
- Scottish Government consultation on Universal Credit (Claims and Payments) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 (January 2017)
This consultation sought views on two UC flexibilities – managed payments of rent to landlords and more frequent payments of UC. The closing date for responses was 13 March 2017.
The Government's response states that they have made a number of changes to the draft regulations based on the responses received. As a result they have:
- Strengthened the wording to address stakeholder concerns that a right to request flexibility, rather than a right to choose, could unintentionally result in a request for a flexibility being refused without legitimate reason which is contrary to the policy intention. The new regulations make it clear that the request must be agreed to unless it is considered unreasonable to implement the request
- removed the word claimant and replaced it with applicant or recipient
- updated references to rent to include service charges
The new regulations will come into effect on 4 October 2017.
- DWP & HMRC consultation on exceptions to the two child limit policy in universal credit and child tax credit (November 2016). The Government response to this consultation was published in January 2017.
The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 restricts the number of children/young people in respect of whom the child element in UC and CTC is payable to a maximum of two. The Government announced that there would be exceptions to this rule and this consultation sought evidence and views to inform the detailed design of those exceptions. The exceptions consulted on were:
- Where a child is born as part of a multiple birth where there were previously fewer than two children in the household
- Living long term with family or friends because they were unable to live with their parents and could be at risk of entering the care system
- Born as a result of rape
- Adopted children
- SSAC consultation on waiting days for UC (June 2015) - SSAC consulted on the Regulations that proposed the introduction of waiting days for UC claimants. The SSAC report and Government’s response was published in June 2015.
- SSAC consultation UC surplus earnings and losses regulations (Feb 2015) - SSAC consulted on the Universal Credit (Surpluses and Self-employed losses) (Digital Service) Amendment Regulations 2015. SSAC's report and the Government’s response was published in February 2015.
- DWP consultation on UC data sharing with social landlords (Jan 2015) - DWP sought views on data sharing with landlords in order for them to assess and provide support to their tenants who have made UC claims.
- DWP consultation on UC data sharing between DWP and local support providers (December 2014) - DWP sought views on data sharing to enable local support providers to assess and provide support to vulnerable people as part of the Universal Support initiative.
- SSAC consultation on Universal Credit Regulations (2012) - SSAC consulted on the Universal Credit Regulations in 2012. The Government’s response was published alongside the SSAC report in December 2012.
Updated 3 July 2017