Preparing for two major changes
Welcome to the Spring 2018 issue of Focus where we report on our key activities over the past quarter. We are gearing up for two major changes to our work and to the lives of our many clients.
We have also been preparing our advisers so we are ready to support our clients deal with the impact of the switch over to Universal Credit in Westminster in June, particularly as this new benefit will replace the seven most widely awarded benefits and will only be accessible on-line. We have had team training from the DWP and have raised a number of questions about the processes, particularly for our vulnerable clients and those who have mental health issues. Our research and campaigns team has been looking at the provision of digital support and finding out where you can go for free access to the internet locally. We are also creating a new section on our website to include a video of how you can log on and create an account and what information you will need to have ready.
We will be monitoring the impact on our clients carefully and discussing any issues with the DWP. Recent research by the national Citizens Advice has found that Universal Credit could risk adding to the financial instability of low-income workers, with those who are self-employed likely to come under the most pressure. Two new reports examine the impact of work allowance cuts on people’s budgets, and why its design can leave self-employed workers at a financial disadvantage.
Citizens Advice analysis shows a self-employed worker who receives Universal Credit could be worse off by £630 a year compared to an employee on the benefit, even if their year-end earnings are identical. There is concern that this design flaw is unfair and risks causing financial hardship as self-employed workers often earn different amounts from one month to the next.We will be monitoring this issue locally and share any concerns to ensure that these clients are not suffering hardship as a result of the new system.
We hope you find Focus an interesting and useful overview of our work and please do get in touch if you would like further information on any of the articles or have ideas for other subjects we can feature.