London Councils supports the principles of simplifying the welfare system and making work pay. However, London’s higher costs of housing, childcare and transport have the potential to dampen the incentive to work that UC is intended to bring.
Research carried out by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion on behalf of London Councils found that when Universal Credit is introduced, all household types in London will have lower gains from working compared to those elsewhere in the country who move into paid work.
The research also found that Londoners with two or more children are considerably worse off under Universal Credit compared to the rest of the country.
Universal Credit full service is now live in 8 of London’s 33 local authorities in at least some postcode areas. These are Croydon, Hounslow, Southwark and Sutton, Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and the City of London. From October 2017 full service will be rolled out to more London boroughs, with full rollout in London completed by August 2018.
Full service is only for new claimants or those households who have experienced a change of circumstances. From 2020 existing claimants of legacy benefits will be transferred to Universal Credit.
London Councils is working with boroughs and DWP to monitor the rollout of Universal Credit and identify policy solutions to emerging issues. For example DWP have agreed to take Emergency Temporary Accommodation out of Universal Credit and return it to Housing Benefit.
In March 2017 London Councils submitted evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s inquiry into Universal Credit rollout, detailing the experience and concerns of London local authorities. This identified significant problems with rent arrears arising from the administration of Universal Credit and a failure to properly determine claimant vulnerability and provide appropriate support and adjustments.