Universal credit delayed until 2024
The full rollout of universal credit has been delayed once more, increasing the overall cost of the scheme by £500 million.
The scheme was originally supposed to be launched in April 2017; however, the launch has now been moved to September 2024.
The benefit replaces the existing six payments and has already been subject to a host of issues.
Some claimants have reported waiting times of up to five weeks for payments to commence, resulting in people resorting to food banks or falling into debt due to the delay.
Advanced payments have also resulted in claimants falling into debt. When the benefit is eventually delivered, the payments are reduced in order to pay off the advance they have received previously.
Claimants are currently expected to move to the universal credit system as a response to a change of circumstances, including moving in with a new partner.
People are “scared” to move to universal credit, according to officials.
Will Quince, the welfare delivery minister, has said that claimants would not be out of pocket if they were to change to the new scheme.
The BBC will air new series Universal Credit: Inside the Welfare State this evening, which will show the backroom discussions which resulted in the delay.
Makers of the documentary attended meetings in the Department for Work and Pensions, with officials realising fewer people than expected reported their change of circumstances.
Senior civil servant, Neil Couling, who is in charge of the rollout, said: "We've got a lot of anecdotal evidence of people being scared to come to universal credit.
"It's a potentially serious issue for us, in terms of completing the project by December 2023, but I'm urging people not to panic."