Jobcentre staff need more training for Universal Credit, warn MPs
Universal Credit will only work if Jobcentres take in-work support seriously, a group of MPs have warned.
The new benefits system, which combines several other benefits in a single payment, is supposed to run alongside one-to-one coaching from jobcentre staff, including after the individual has found work.
However Westminster’s Work and Pension Select Committee has warned there is a lack of information and evidence this is happening.
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In its latest report, the committee says the new responsibilities make Jobcentre staff “a new kind of public servant”, which would require new skills and training.
“They will need to address structural barriers to progression, such as access to childcare, skills development and job opportunities, on a personalised basis.
“They will also need to understand local labour markets and engage with employers to a far greater extent than they have done before.
“Compared to the existing role of moving people out of work into employment, this will require the DWP to nurture Work Coaches with a substantially expanded set of skills,” the MPs warned.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith MP said: “This report shows there are significant challenges facing the new Universal Credit system, not least how to ensure work pays and people are incentivised in to jobs.
“As a result, it is deeply worrying that at the early part of the rollout, huge Tory cuts to work allowances will undermine this aim, as 2.5 million working families will left over £2,100 a year worse off.”
The report comes shortly after think tank the Resolution Foundation warned Universal Credit has “serious design flaws”.
Meanwhile a Children’s Society report found that 100,000 disabled children who currently receive support through Disability Living Allowance will have their support halved under Universal Credit.
SNP Welfare spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford said: “Even with tax allowances and an increase to the minimum wage, half a million working families will actually be significantly worse off under Universal Credit – a truly devastating blow to the UK government’s flagship benefit.”