Philip Hammond reduces waiting time for Universal Credit by seven days

Written by Agnes Chambre on 23 November 2017 in News

With campaigners claiming the six weeks wait has seen claimants driven into debt, senior Tory MPs had been expected to rebel in the Commons

Philip Hammond has bowed to political pressure and agreed to reduce the six weeks waiting time for new claimants to Universal Credit by seven days.

With campaigners claiming the six weeks wait has seen claimants driven into debt, the Government had been expected to make an announcement following fears Tory MPs could rebel in the Commons.

Senior Tories, including former Prime Minister John Major, had joined with opposition parties in recent months to demand a pause in the rollout of the programme.

Hammond told MPs that the seven day waiting period applied at the beginning of a benefit claim would be removed.

He also said changes would be implemented to make it easier for households to an emergency full month payment within five days of applying.

And the Treasury will extend the repayment period for those advances from six months to 12.

"Universal Credit delivers a modern welfare system, where work always pays and people are supported to earn," Hammond declared in the Commons.

"But I recognise the genuine concerns on both sides of the House about the operational delivery of this benefit. Today we will act on those concerns."

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Universal Credit was "one of the multitude of injustices presided over this government".

"Wouldn’t it have been better to pause the whole thing and look at the problems it has caused?" he asked.

The Citizens Advice Bureau, one of the key organisations campaigning for changes to the Universal Credit system, welcomed the announcements in the Budget.

“These changes should make a significant difference to the millions of people who will be claiming Universal Credit by the time it’s fully implemented," chief executive Gillian Guy said.

"We’ll continue to keep a close eye on the roll-out of Universal Credit and make sure they do."

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