Suzie Scott
Everyone’s Children Project Manager

 

The Everyone’s Children team attended the Third Sector Forum information event on the Financial and Digital Impacts of Universal Credit roll out on Tuesday the 14th of August at the Albany Centre.

At present, Universal Credit payments only apply to single people and couples. However, the DWP has announced that they will be rolling out the scheme across Glasgow to families with children who are new claimants on the following dates:

• 19 Sept 2018 –  Govan
• 26 Sept 2018 – Laurieston and Newlands
• 31 Oct 2018 – Partick and Springburn
• 5 Dec 2018 – Drumchapel, Shettleston and Castlemilk

Following the roll out to new claimants, existing benefit claimants will be ‘migrated’ between mid-2019 and 2018.

Andy Wright, Senior Welfare Officer at Glasgow City Council, outlined the details of the Universal Credit scheme and you can download this presentation here.

The key message is that there are a lot more losers than winners from the scheme, compared with existing benefits. Families and people with disabilities are likely to lose money, so it is important that they get a benefit check to ensure that they are getting everything they are entitled to claim before their cases are ‘migrated’.

One area of big concern is that the DWP expects people to make their claim online. This needs to be done on a computer, rather than a smartphone. Sandra McDermott, Head of Financial Inclusion at Glasgow City Council, outlined the steps that the Council is taking to assist people. By putting welfare rights and employability advisors into key hubs including libraries and early learning centres, they aim to ensure that families get help with Universal Credit and any other problems they may have.

The Scottish Government is also using its Social Security powers to allow claimants to request payments twice a month, rather than once a month, and to make direct payments to landlords. People need to ask for these so it’s important that they know they can.

Sandra emphasised that Universal Credit will have a ‘knock on’ effect for Third Sector organisations working with children, young people and families. There are likely to be more families in poverty and a dramatic increase in the use of foodbanks and other Third Sector services. She asked the Third Sector to work in partnership with the council and to do whatever they can to help families. She also asked organisations to collate case studies of how Universal Credit is impacting on the ground, which the council and Third Sector can feed into campaigning and policy development.

Kathleen Caskie, Third Sector Forum Network Manager, concluded the session by apologising such a grim session of almost unremitting bad news. The only bright spot was that third sector organisations are keen to help families and play their part in trying to avert crises.

If you would like to be kept up to date with further updates on Universal Credit (or offer any case examples of problems), please email Kathleen at kathleen.caskie@gcvs.org.uk and request to join the mailing list.