Universal Credit – information for local authorities
Universal Credit will simplify the benefits system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits into a single streamlined payment. It aims to:
- simplify the system, making it easier for people to understand, and easier and cheaper for staff to administer
- improve work incentives
- smooth the transitions into and out of work
- reduce in-work poverty
- cut back on fraud and error.
The first applications to Universal Credit will be made in October 2013. We expect all working age claimants to have moved onto Universal Credit by October 2017.
The short address for this page is www.dwp.gov.uk/ucla
On this page you will find:
- Latest updates
- The Universal Credit and local authorities
- Local authority engagement
- More information
- Universal Credit Local Support Services Framework – message from Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform – 20 May 2013
- Universal Credit service charges – guidance for owner occupiers (62KB) - 03 May 2013
- Universal Credit service charges – guidance for landlords (63KB) - April 2013
- Information about Universal Credit for claimants has been published on the GOV.UK website – 24 April 2013
- Local authority led pilots update April 2013 (95KB)
- Operational details on the Pathfinder for Universal Credit, confirming that the reform would start early in the Manchester and Cheshire areas from the end of April - 28 March 2013
Local authorities need to know about Universal Credit because of the following changes.
Working age claimants will get help with eligible rent through Universal Credit, rather than Housing Benefit. This means that:
- new claims for Housing Benefit from customers who are out of work will move to Universal Credit from October 2013
- new claims for Housing Benefit from customers who are working will move to Universal Credit from April 2014
- existing claimants will move from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit from October 2013 to October 2017 and claimants may need support locally.
Customers over the qualifying age for Pension Credit will, as a result of the introduction of Universal Credit, get help with eligible rent through a new element of Pension Credit called Housing Credit, rather than claim Housing Benefit. On current plans this means that:
- new customers over Pension Credit qualifying age will have to claim Pension Credit to access help with eligible rent from October 2014
- existing Housing Benefit customers over Pension Credit qualifying age (with or without Pension Credit) will be transferred to modified Pension Credit, including Housing Credit, between October 2014 and October 2017
- new claims to Housing Benefit from people over Pension Credit qualifying age received up to October 2014 will be dealt with as now.
DWP are considering what support we can offer locally for Pension Credit customers claiming help with eligible rent.
DWP are currently working with local authorities to define and agree their role, both throughout the migration to the Universal Credit and over the longer term.
Information about how the Department currently works with local authorities to deliver Housing Benefit is here:
Council tax support
The Government announced at the 2010 Spending Review that support for Council Tax would be localised from April 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have consulted on proposals for the localisation of Council Tax support in England. The Scottish and Welsh Governments will bring forward their proposals in due course.
- Localising council tax support (DCLG website)
The Universal Credit team is engaging with local authorities and ongoing programme of work is taking place in a number of areas including the following.
Working across teams
- Four local authority staff have been seconded to the Universal Credit programme to help inform all aspects from design to migration and implementation.
- The Universal Credit Programme Board includes a local authority representative – Chief Executive, Paul Martin (London Borough of Wandsworth).
Workshops and visits
- A workshop with local authorities from across Great Britain that was held earlier in the year to provide input into the Business Change Planning Framework for the Universal Credit programme.
- Visits to local authorities by Universal Credit programme staff provide opportunities to gather insight and to understand the role of local authorities in face to face customer support and in supporting customers with complex needs. Sixty visits have been completed or are planned across Great Britain and more visits are to be arranged.
- Local Authority Visits Programme (26KB) (October 2011) – find out more about the visits and get involved
- The Local Authority Association Steering Group meets 10 times a year and has an advisory role, considering Universal Credit alongside other Departmental initiatives that affect local authorities.
- The Local Authority Transition Working Group meets monthly to discuss all aspects of welfare reform and advise on how the Department can help local authorities to manage these.
- The Financial and Commercial Working Group includes senior finance representatives from local authorities.
- Programme attendance at Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and Institute of Revenues, Rating & Valuation (IRRV) events.
- Local authorities have provided vital information about HB/CTB services through recent surveys to help us plan the efficient and effective transition to Universal Credit.
- Six demonstration projects to test paying Housing Benefit direct to claimants have recently been announced by the Minister for Welfare Reform.
Engagement with Universal Credit activity
A successful partnership between the Universal Credit Programme and local authorities will be a critical success factor for Universal Credit. A strong commitment on the part of local authorities’ senior leadership and other key audiences will be crucial to realisation of that aim. This document outlines the level of engagement between Local Authorities and the programme.
- Local authority engagement with Universal Credit activity (112KB) – updated 20 February 2013
Local authority led pilots monthly updates
We will publish monthly updates to support both internal and external communications in relation to the local authority led pilots.
On 8 March 2012 the Welfare Reform Act received Royal Assent. The Act legislates for the biggest change to the welfare system for over 60 years.
- Welfare Reform Act 2012
- Welfare reform draft regulations and policy briefing notes
- Frequently asked questions – Universal Credit (55KB)
For comments or questions visit these local government websites: