Esther McVey announced a £39 million tie-up with the UK’s citizen’s advice agencies
A major charity has agreed to help the UK government with the Universal Credit (UC) roll out despite previously calling for the controversial benefit to be halted.
The country’s citizen’s advice network – including Citizen’s Advice Scotland (CAS) – has now been tasked by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) with delivering a support service for claimants.
There has been widespread condemnation of UC – which rolls several previously existing benefits into one – due to delays, administrative failures and cost.
In many cases, claimants have faced a devastating six week wait for cash from UC.
The system's myriad failings have pushed welfare and advice charities to the limit of their resources, and many, including CAS, have called or it to be halted.
However, at the Tory party conference this week work and pensions secretary Esther McVey announced a £39 million tie-up with the UK’s citizen’s advice agencies, a network of individual charities.
McVey said: “I have always said we will steer a new direction and work with partners to deliver vital services, and get Universal Credit right.
“The state cannot, and should not work in isolation and must reach out to work with independent, trusted organisations to get the best support to vulnerable people.
“This brand new partnership with Citizens Advice will ensure everyone, and in particular the most vulnerable claimants, get the best possible support with their claim that is consistently administered throughout the country.”
CAS said the cash will complement the work the service already does in helping people through the UC system – specifically the early days of their claim.
As such, it’s a vindication of its stance that more support is needed for claimants.
Derek Mitchell, chief executive of CAS, said: "In person through local CAB, by phone and online, our network offers top quality advice and support to people applying for Universal Credit in Scotland.
“This announcement brings an opportunity to further enhance the support we provide, and we are pleased that the impact Universal Credit has on potential applicants - and on local CAB services in Scotland - has been recognised.
"We expect the numbers of people in need of independent advice on Universal Credit applications will continue to increase, and delivering this service will help us as we do all we can to meet that need.
“We will continue the work that the citizens advice network in Scotland has always done: supporting individuals to resolve the problems they face, and advocating nationally to address the root causes of those problems."