A NEW system aimed at supporting benefit claimants back into work has been launched in Redditch.
Universal credit – which merges six unemployment benefits into one – came into force in the borough
on Monday (February 23) as part of a roll out across the country.
Redditch is the first town in Worcestershire to be offering the monthly payment although it was also introduced in Stratford this week and has been operating in Rugby for 18 months.
Nationally around 56,000 people are receiving universal credit and around a third of those are in work and being supported to progress.
Donna Bateman, senior operations leader at Job Centre Plus, said they were expecting to have a few hundred people signed up by the summer. Initially only new claims by single residents will be dealt with under universal credit but eventually it is hoped everyone already on income based job seekers’ allowance, income related employment and support allowance, income support, working tax credit, child tax credit and housing benefit, will switch over to the new system.
“At the moment if you find work for over 16 hours a week it is a cliff edge and you lose all your benefits. Now there are no limits on the number of hours someone can work and the payment will reduce gradually as the person earns more money.” she said.
“It links to earnings more than the hours worked so people who are working will be better off.
“There will also be a shift in advice people get from their Job Centre, we are looking to have more of a coaching role to help people achieve their best outcomes.”