Universal Credit: Brits face postcode lottery but new system will make them better off

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BRITS on Universal Credit face a postcode lottery – but those on the new system will be better off than before, a fresh report says today.

As millions more people prepare to go over onto the six-in-one benefits programme, the Resolution Foundation found huge differences in how the benefits system affects people across the country.

Universal Credit needs to help parents upfront with childcare and slash the five week wait, HOAR is campaigning for

Thanks to factors such as local rent and earnings levels, and the make-up of local areas, some parts of the country will be left significantly worse off.

And it warned that there are still more people losing out than gaining on the new system.

46 per cent of people will be worse off, but 39 per cent will be better off, the research found.

Families will gain 61 a week on average, but those who lost out will be out of pocket by around 50.

Outside of London there are more single parents, out-of-work single people and disabled people, who don’t get as much under Universal Credit, the report says.

In Liverpool, one of the areas with the most people on Universal Credit so far, only a third of families will be better off on the new system.

The influential think tank found that the five week wait – which HOAR has campaigned to cut as part of our Make Universal Credit Work push – put them under significant financial and mental strain.

One single parent said: “Sometimes you are starving, there’s no food.

“Once you start the payments then it’s fine, but when they first put you on it’s quite stressful. You keep thinking ‘how am I going to manage this?’.”

The Resolution Foundation says ministers should slash the five week wait and consider payments after two weeks and backdating claims.

It also found that paying for childcare upfront was crippling for families, and it must be more flexible to work.

One single parent said: “It’s awful – you’ve got to find the money a month in advance.

“And last time I didn’t get the receipts in time so I wasn’t able to get the money back.”

Laura Gardiner, Research Director at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Welcome recent reforms mean that Universal Credit is now set to be marginally more generous than the benefits it is replacing.

“But this average hides a complex mix of winners and losers, with families in some areas of the UK faring particularly badly.

“As well as making reforms at a national level such as helping families to overcome the first payment hurdle and offering more flexibility for those with childcare policy makers across the country need to better understand the effect Universal Credit will have in different places.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “Universal Credit supports more than 2.7 million people across every part of the country, introducing tailored support to replace a complicated old system.

“This report rightly recognises improvements weve made, like boosting work allowances for some families to 1,000 and making it much easier to apply online.”

Around 2.3million are currently on the new flagship programme, but millions more have yet to be transferred over.

It was announced last week that nearly one million Brits will see a 120 boost to their housing benefits in April, after ministers confirmed the end to a four-year freeze.

If you’re struggling, we explainwhat a Universal Credit advance payment is, how do you apply and when you have to pay it back.

You may also qualify for aUniversal Credit Flexible Support Fund payment that you don’t have to pay back.

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