The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed the next local authorities and JobCentres where Universal Credit will be rolling out. RLA trainer and housing benefit expert Bill Irvine writes to members about the implications of the scheme coming in, and when it can be expected. A warning: landlords have been receiving little warning of when the scheme will come to their areas, so best to be prepared.
Tranche 1 – February to April 2015
Tranche 2 – May to July 2015
Tranche 3 – August to November 2015
Tranche 4 – December 2015 to April 2016
The earlier list, showing 1 & 2 can be found here.
DWP refer to the details of 3 & 4 as “planning assumptions” i.e. they haven’t, as yet, agreed firm timetables. More precise postal codes & timings will be issued nearer the start of the proposed dates.
The format for the staged rollout is identical to tranches 1 & 2.
Only single, newly unemployed claimants, who would otherwise have claimed Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) or Working Tax Credits, and who can overcome the long list of gateway barriers will be able to claim. The “gateway” is designed to keep the numbers of “eligible” claimants to a minimum, because of the ongoing IT problems.
However, evidence is emerging, in some areas, of individuals and families who have been invited to claim Universal Credit who should have been excluded by the “gateway”. In the Manchester, Liverpool, Wirral and St Helens areas, couples are now being invited to claim.
Furthermore, in some tranche 1 areas, Residential Social Landlords (RSLs) have been surprised by just how little warning they received before implementation started. This is almost identical to what occurred when the rollout was extended to the North West of England areas in June 2014. So, it’s better to prepare now, than be caught napping later.