Universal credit claimants are to be offered advance payments which could be made on the same day as requested where required, work and pensions secretary David Gauke has announced.
The move follows increasing calls for the rollout of the controversial welfare reform to be postponed and reports claimants are routinely amassing huge rent arrears due to the six-week delay between application and pay out.
Last month LGC reported how the first three councils with housing stock to have introduced universal credit for new claimants had built up £8m in arrears.
In his speech to the Conservative conference in Manchester this morning Mr Gauke gave a vigorous defence of the policy and said not enough attention was paid to the new work coaching introduced alongside universal credit.
“The evidence is already clear: it’s helped more people into work and more people in work to progress to better jobs,” he said.
“I understand the concerns that have been raised when people complain they have to wait six weeks. I’m determined to ensure that those that need support earlier in the month will get it.”
He said it was “already the case” that people could get an advance and that since June the “majority of new claimants did so”. However, this would be stepped up.
Mr Gauke said: “Anyone who needs an advance payment will be offered it up front [and] will receive this advance within five working days. If someone has an immediate need we will fast track the payment meaning they will get it on the same day.
“Universal credit is working. I can confirm that the rollout will continue to the planned timetable. Universal credit is the next step on our journey to a welfare state that gives people the help they need but does not trap them in dependency.”