Over one million people will be claiming Universal Credit by April 2014 Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith announced today(1st November ) as he set out the Government timetable to move 12 million claimants onto the new benefit by 2017.
Development of the Universal Credit IT programme is also progressing well with 30 per cent of the new technology required to deliver it now complete on time and on budget.
Iain Duncan Smith said:
"Universal Credit is the most radical redesign of the benefits system this country has ever seen. From October 2013 it will replace the current costly, outdated process with a digital system, which will be simpler to use and make work pay for hundreds of thousands of people across the UK.
"The programme is on track and on time for implementing from 2013. We are already testing out the process on single and couple claimants, with stage one and two now complete. Stage 3 is starting ahead of time - to see how it works for families. And today we have set out our migration plans which will see nearly twelve million working age benefit claimants migrate onto the new benefits system by 2017."
The transition from the old benefit system to Universal Credit will take place in three phases over four years, ending in 2017 with around 7.7m households receiving more support to find more work and be more self-sufficient.
Between October 2013 and April 2014 - 500,000 new claimants will receive Universal Credit in place of Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
At the same time a further 500,000 existing claimants (and their partners and dependants) will also move on to Universal Credit as and when their circumstances change significantly, such as when they find work or when a child is born.
From April 2014 the second phase will give priority to households who will benefit most from the transition such as those Working Tax Credit claimants who currently work a small number of hours a week but could work more hours with the support that Universal Credit brings. Overall 3.5 million existing claimants (and their partners and dependents) will be transferred onto Universal Credit during this second Phase.
The last and final phase, which begins at the end of 2015 and runs through to the end of 2017, will see around 3 million households being transferred to Universal Credit by local authority boundary with a focus on safeguarding financial support, such as Housing Benefit payments to claimants as the old benefit system winds down.
Updating the House of Lords in a Written Ministerial Statement, Lord Freud the Minister for Welfare Reform said:
"We recognise that the move from one welfare system to another needs to be carefully managed to ensure social outcomes are maximised and no-one is left without support, which is why we taking a phased approach to Universal Credit both in terms of moving people onto the benefit and ensuring that the systems are in place to deliver it."
Many of the technology building blocks needed to deliver Universal Credit already exist with the programme reusing existing, proven IT, which represents about sixty per cent of what is needed. Although there will be elements that need to be updated and parts which need to be built from scratch - Ministers are clear that Universal Credit does not require a major new IT system.