Thank you very much for taking the time to contact me about Universal Credit. I read your email carefully and noted the points that you raise.
Universal Credit is a major reform that will transform the welfare state in Britain. At the heart of Universal Credit is a belief that work should always pay. Under the new system, benefit will only be withdrawn gradually as claimants start work or increase their earnings, meaning their total income always goes up.
I can appreciate your concerns on the issue of a smooth roll out of Universal Credit. Rightly for a programme of this scale, the priority continues to be its safe and secure delivery. The controlled expansion of Universal Credit started in April 2013 and I am pleased that significant progress has been made to date. Universal Credit is now available for single claimants in every jobcentre in the country.
Figures have shown that people claiming Universal Credit are 13 per cent more likely to be in work than people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, earning more money and more willing to take a job.
The taper rate has also been reduced since April of this year to help people to progress in work. I welcome this change, which will mean people will keep more of what they earn and will be better rewarded for increasing their hours or pay.
Under Universal Credit, support worth up to 85 per cent of childcare costs is now available regardless of hours worked, significantly higher than the support that was available under tax credits. This will give parents more flexibility to work and earn more money.
Whilst I can fully understand your concerns over Universal Credit, and regrettably there may continue to be one or two teething problems as a change in the system this large is rolled out, I hope that this explains why I support this extremely important and positive reform. You will be pleased to hear that I have had virtually no individual casework on this matter in Woking and that the relevant authorities seem to be preparing well for its implementation locally.
Once again thank you for bringing your views to my attention. I will certainly raise your views and concerns with appropriate ministerial colleagues as the Government helps to implement this positive reform of a system that was failing too many people in terms of their life chances and their prospects for work.