Today I visited the Job Centre Plus at Helena House at the north end of Sutton High Street.
Sutton is a ‘test and learn’ centre and was therefore chosen to be the first to trial the roll out of Universal Credit in the UK.
Universal Credit is a new type of benefit designed to support people who are on a low income or out of work. It will replace six existing benefits and is currently being rolled out across the UK. The new system is based on a single monthly payment, transferred directly into a bank account.
Universal Credit will replace:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
I went along to see Universal Credit in action, to discuss what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to Universal Credit, and to learn more about what the Job Centre was doing in Sutton.
I was pleased to hear that the introduction of Universal Credit had overall gone well, and that claimants and staff were positive about the new system. In addition, the benefit of being a ‘test and learn’ centre is that they have the chance to feedback on what is going well or otherwise.
Universal Credit has also allowed the Job Centre to refocus its efforts on social justice, which it has already put at the heart of its operations. The flexibility of the benefit, which caters to each individual’s specific needs, has allowed them to better identify claimants with more intensive issues when it comes to finding work, and putting in place a support mechanism for them.
I want to thank Sutton Job Centre for having me and taking me through Universal Credit, and I’m glad to see such an efficient operation helping the people of Sutton who need them.