27th Jun, 2022

Around 37,000 Coventry residents will make switch to Universal Credit

Felix Nobes 17th Jan, 2018 Updated: 18th Jan, 2018

AROUND 37,000 Coventry residents will be forced to make the problematic switch to Universal Credit, data reveals.

The second stage of the benefit reform called Universal Credit ‘full service’ will be rolled out in Coventry in July this year.

Most recent figures from June said there are 1835 households in Coventry currently in receipt of Universal Credit, according to Coventry Law Centre.

Universal Credit is the new form of benefit payment encompassing previous claimants of housing benefit, child tax credit, income support, working tax credit, job seeker’s allowance and employment and support allowance.

The welfare reform has been revered by some as an incentive for work, but reviled by others who say it is unfair and poorly managed.

The organisation said that they provide assistance with complex benefit cases that could involve having children, getting a new job or having developed health problems.

The Centre said it is heavily involved in cases with housing and debt issues – which are expected to occur more frequently after the switch to Universal Credit.

Janet Gurney, a caseworker from the Welfare Benefits Team at Coventry Law Centre, said: “The introduction of Universal Credit has to be seen in the context of earlier welfare reforms which have often had a negative impact on claimants.

“These include the Benefit Cap and the Bedroom Tax as well as the escalating number of sanctions.

“The problems that we will see at the second stage of the roll out will be experienced by the same groups affected by these earlier reforms and this also contributes to the escalation of their problems.”

Coventry City Council said that agencies across the country came together last month to look at a wide variety of issues affecting people on low incomes, struggling with debts and coping with welfare benefit changes.

Organisations such as Coventry Independent Advice Services, Coventry Citizens Advice and also Coventry Law Centre met at Coventry council to discuss the impending switch to Universal Credit.

Alan Markey, from Coventry Independent Advice Services, also chair of the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers, said: “In Coventry we have a group of agencies to ensure that people understand the new Universal Credit system and to overcome challenges currently being experienced in other areas of the country”.

Coun Linda Bigham, council cabinet member for community development, added: “It’s important that people with a disability or on a low income have the right advice.

“There are many issues affecting our most vulnerable residents.

“For example, we know that there have been delays in Universal Credit payments, and we need to help prevent tenants falling into debt.”

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