"The Government needs to restore funding to councils for local welfare assistance schemes so they can provide the local safety net to help those struggling to cope with welfare reforms, including the roll out of Universal Credit."
Responding to the National Audit Office report on the rolling out of Universal Credit, Cllr Nick Forbes, Senior Vice Chair of the Local Government Association, said:
“While councils support the principle of Universal Credit to incentivise work and increase income from employment, concerns remain about funding reductions for the programme, the impact of the ongoing freeze to working age benefits and shortfall in funding to councils to support claimants with additional needs.
“The ongoing challenges with the transition to UC are being borne out by some local evidence on issues including household debt, increased queries and requests for support and rent arrears. This is putting pressure on councils' revenues and benefits services and wider support to low income households at a time of significant funding reductions.
“The Government needs to restore funding to councils for local welfare assistance schemes so they can provide the local safety net to help those struggling to cope with welfare reforms, including the roll out of Universal Credit.
“Councils are playing an important role in supporting the implementation of UC and in managing the impacts of welfare reform in their communities. It is therefore crucial that councils’ concerns about the effect of the rollout of UC on residents and services are listened to by the Government. The role of councils in supporting those affected needs to be both adequately funded and appropriately recognised to ensure UC delivers on its overarching objectives."
Notes to editors
A report commissioned by the LGA estimated that of the 7.2 million households who will be affected by the roll-out of Universal Credit, 3.1 million households will lose an average of £46.48 per week as a result, while 2 million will gain an average of £26.80 per week.
The remainder of households will experience a negligible change, or no change, in income.