Concerns raised about impact of benefit change

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AN INFLUENTIAL Parliamentary committee chaired by a Sheffield MP has raised concerns about the change in benefits to the new Universal Credit system.

The Communities and Local Government Committee is calling for assurances that measures will be taken to tackle the risk of fraud.

Clive Betts, Sheffield South East Labour MP and committee chairman, said: “It is vital for all those affected that this implementation is handled successfully. Local authorities have a key role to play in ensuring this is the case.

“We heard evidence that computer systems for fraud detection within Universal Credit were still at an early stage in their development.

“This is extremely concerning given the advanced state of implementation.

“The Government must act to provide assurance that the benefit system will not be left vulnerable to fraud either during or after the transition - and it must do so urgently.”

A further change of particular concern is that housing benefit will, in most cases, be paid to claimants rather than directly to their landlords.

There are fears some tenants might not be able to manage their money and budget - and may end up missing rental payments.

The committee has called on the Government to meet the Local Government Association to discuss the changes.