Universal credit – timetable extended again

Final roll-out of UC delayed until 2022 

A written parliamentary statement on 20 July announced a further delay in the timetable for the introduction of universal credit, plus more details about how the roll-out is being done.  

Universal credit (UC) is the new working-age benefit designed to replace a range of other benefits including jobseekers’ allowance, working tax credit and child tax credit. UC is being rolled out slowly across the country, for new claimants who meet certain criteria. Other claimants remain on the old benefits and tax credits and will gradually be transferred to UC. UC was announced in 2010 and originally it was intended that its introduction would be completed for all claimants by 2017. 

The change announced last week is that the ‘managed migration’ of existing benefit claims has been put back a year – it was expected to start in July 2018 and finish by July 2021, but now it will start in July 2019 and by completed in March 2022. This new completion date is therefore five years later than the original target. 

The government explains that the roll-out schedule has been altered “to make sure that the delivery continues to be safe and controlled” and states “this new Government is committed to administer the Universal Credit Programme in a careful, reliable and transparent fashion.” 

The statement also sets out some other details about the process of rolling out UC: 

  • UC has been successfully rolled out across the country to new single jobseekers and is now available in all jobcentres. Over a quarter of a million people are now receiving UC, with around 12,500 new claims every week.

  • The DWP will continue to roll out UC to five jobcentres a month to June 2017, and then will increase the pace of roll-out to 30 a month, then 55 a month and finally 65 a month from February 2018, finishing in September 2018.

  • The government will deliver its policy to limit the child element of tax credits and UC to two children from April 2017. New claims from families with more than two children will be directed to tax credits until November 2018. Thereafter, new claims from families with more than two children will be taken through UC. Families already on UC who have a third child after April 2017 will remain on UC and receive two child elements.

  • The policy to remove the higher rate of child element for the first child in UC will only apply where the first child is born after 6 April 2017, aligning the treatment of families within UC to that in tax credits.