The Government has announced a scale back on its benefit reform trial.
Four north west areas were set to try out the new welfare system from the 1st April. However, ministers announced a delay until July to allow “safe and controlled testing” of the new benefit system.
Labour has claimed that Universal Credit was “on the edge of disaster” as incomplete IT systems were unable to support the benefit trial.
Three out of four pilot areas have been affected by the delay – Wigan, Warrington and Oldham. Only one area, Tameside, is now piloting the programme from this month onwards.
Liam Byrne, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said: “This is yet another embarrassing setback for Universal Credit. The scheme is already late and over-budget and in spite of earlier promises ministers have admitted that they have no idea when out of work claimants will move over to universal credit.”
Byrne urged, “Ministers must admit this project is in crisis and start to fix it now – before millions of families’ tax credits are put at risk.”
Universal credit is a new single benefit system to be managed by the Department of Work and Pensions, and will incorporate existing benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance and Employment Allowance, as well as various tax credits.
The Residential Landlords’ Association has campaigned against Universal Credit, believing the reform is bad news for landlords. The RLA continues to lobby government over the various problems the new benefit system will cause for landlords within the private rental sector, and recently met the benefits minister, Lord Freud, to discuss these problems.