Universal credit

Briefings and reports

Reducing deductions: the first step in a package of support for low-income households

New data released today shows that 4.1 million households were claiming universal credit (UC) in February 2022. Benefits were recently increased by less than half the rate of inflation, meaning these families saw the real value of their UC fall by £660 a year on average. And while benefit levels sit at historic lows, an estimated 1.8 million households are receiving an average of £61 less each month than they are entitled to because of automatic deductions from their UC payment.

Briefing for MPs on Queen's Speech

The Queen’s Speech was a missed opportunity for the government to introduce legislation that would support people in the short term and improve living standards in the longer term.

Making Adjustments? The experiences of universal credit claimants with mental health problems

We undertook research to find out whether the DWP is meeting the needs of people with mental health problems and making adjustments to their service as required by law. UC was promoted in its early stages as a personalised service, providing support to meet people’s needs. We wanted to find out whether it has lived up to this ambition.

News

UC families face £660 income cut as Bank of England increases inflation expectations

21 March 2022
In a letter to the chancellor last week, the Bank of England stated that it expected inflation to be “around 8 per cent” this spring. With UC set to rise by just 3.1% in April, families with children on universal credit now face a real-terms cut of around £660 per year, on average.

Second benefits cut is unthinkable - organisations call for minimum 7% benefits rise

17 March 2022
Benefits must keep pace with the rising cost of living. Child Poverty Action Group joins forces with over 50 organisations to call for benefits to be increased by at least 7 per cent in April to match inflation.

UC families face £570 income cut as costs surge

15 February 2022
DWP figures out today show 3.6 million children were in families on universal credit (UC) in November. Because UC is set to rise by only 3.1% this April when inflation is expected to peak at 7.25%, most of these families face a real-terms cut of around £570 per year in social security support, just as supermarket prices and energy costs surge, new analysis from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) shows.

Blogs

"I am driven into debt by my journey to work" - Caroline's experience

19 April 2022
This is my story and my experience. I grew up in a low-income household in Northern Ireland. I’ve experienced rationing and remember well walking to get the free butter and sugar as a young child. I know how it impacts on a child’s education and on how they see themselves. I didn’t see very much in myself growing up but I am still here, and now watch as my own child’s life experiences run parallel to mine just 40 years apart. 

'You must fit the box': Universal credit and mental health

24 February 2022
Our social security system should be a source of support for everyone who needs it – including those experiencing mental health problems. Several years into the roll-out of the universal credit system, we wanted to find out whether the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) responds to the needs of people with mental health problems to ensure they can access universal credit (UC) fully. We spoke to almost 30 universal credit claimants with mental health problems, and the picture they painted was a worrying one.

It won’t work: why the ‘way to work’ scheme undermines efforts to help people get a decent job

27 January 2022
Jobseekers receiving universal credit (UC) woke to the news today that the time they are allowed to limit their work search to their preferred field will drastically reduce. Rather than having three months, they’ll have a meagre four weeks. After those four weeks, changes brought in under the ‘Way to Work’ campaign mean that UC jobseekers need to apply for and accept any job they can. Anyone deemed non-compliant will face sanctions and reduced income. The legal basis for this is not clear at this stage.