Councils concerned by lack of Universal Credit information

Local authorities are concerned about a lack of “clear information” from the Department for Work and Pensions regarding Universal Credit, which is preventing councils from sufficiently preparing for the switchover, according to a survey.

The research was conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the DWP, which surveyed 145 council benefit managers online to assess to what extent the local authorities are ready for Universal Credit rollout.

A quarter of respondents had not started making any plans to prepare staff and systems for the switchover.

The report found a “lack of consistent or clear information” being provided to local government from central government is causing frustration amongst management in local authorities.

The report of the findings commented: “The biggest challenge…was reported to be a lack of clarity about timescales and future plans from DWP. This uncertainty is said to be preventing certain decisions being made, and hindering the amount of preparation that can be done.”

It added: “Lack of consistent or clear information from DWP can be a source of frustration, and often prevents local authorities from being able to prepare or be confident in their preparations.”

Amongst those councils that have begun preparations, the survey found that three quarters have established partnerships between social services, education and housing, whilst a similar amount have joint working agreements in place with organisations such as Jobcentre Plus.

Additionally, the report found a “limited” use of data and data collection, less than half recorded the number of claimants who claimed housing benefit online and less than 10% collected data on access to digital services and use of such services from home.

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