Universal Credit: New benefit will act as a ‘safety net’ for job seekers

The gig-economy is expected to grow in the coming years.
The gig-economy is expected to grow in the coming years.

The Department for Work and Pensions says Universal Credit will act as a ‘safety net’ for people who are in and out of work, as it begins its roll out in Sheffield this week.

DWP partnership manager Nigel Coleman said: “If somebody is coming out of work, it means that if they have put in a previous claim to Universal Credit, that the safety net will turn on immediately.

The Department for Work & Pensions. Picture by PA Wire/PA Images

The Department for Work & Pensions. Picture by PA Wire/PA Images

“For example, if someone was working a temporary job over Christmas and then lost that job in January, the Universal Credit payments would turn on straight away.”

According to Nigel, the ethos of Universal Credit is that it ‘mirrors’ work and that it will allow people to pick up short term work if they need to, or a long-term job and feel secure and supported should they go on to lose their job.

Critics of Universal Credit are concerned that people will struggle to switch from weekly and fortnightly payments to one big monthly payment.

Nigel said: “The whole idea behind Universal Credit is to have it matching a cycle to what people are paid in their salaries so that once people are in work it then becomes very supportive.

“So, if you finished work at the start of October, you would get paid that salary which would look after you for that month and then as long as you have made your claim to Universal Credit at that point, the Universal Credit would turn back on, just as your final wage is being used up.”

Nigel also addressed concerns that people without the right digital skills may struggle to make their Universal Credit claims online.

He added: “For those people who don’t have a device, we have a huge number of job centre computers for people to come in and update their online details or to make a claim.

“And there is also support for people who will struggle digitally, to make that claim in our job centres.”

Further information about Universal Credit can be found on the council’s website www.sheffield.gov.uk/universalcredit