Melton Borough Council

Melton Universal Credit Pilot Extended

Published Friday, 26th July 2013

In August 2012 it was announced that Melton Borough Council and Rushcliffe Borough Council had been chosen as one of only twelve pilots across the UK.

The idea is to help Central Government prepare for the introduction of Universal Credit, which is due to be phased in from October 2013 onwards.

Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform has recently endorsed the valuable work of the pilots and has announced that they are to be extended by a further three months until the end of December 2013.  Speaking in London last week he commented that the pilots were “the most exciting initiative the Department for Work and Pensions had run with councils for some time” and that the Government were “not only listening but learning too”.

Over the next four years all out of work benefits including income support, tax credits, Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and housing benefit will be rolled into one benefit to be known as Universal Credit which will be paid directly to claimants monthly.  Claimants will be expected to manage their claims digitally, but it is recognised that some support will be needed for people with limited IT skills or who don’t have ready access to the internet. The implementation of Universal Credit is intended to ensure that work will always pay.

One of the main aims of the Melton Pilot is to test how well prepared working age benefit claimants are to manage their claims digitally.  Work has been progressing well since the start of the Pilot in October 2012 and we are currently using the new Council Tax Support Service, which replaced Council Tax Benefit from 1st April 2013, to test how prepared people are for these important changes to the Welfare System.  Melton Borough Council People Manager, Ronan Browne, said “we are encouraged that approximately 35% of claimants appear to be reasonably well prepared to cope with digital services and we are now starting to get a good understanding of some of the issues that people will face.  We are working hard with partners to ensure that those that are struggling will get the right kind of support that they need”.

Partnership working is emerging as a key area for all of the Pilots to ensure that we help people who are out of work to achieve better outcomes and live their lives more independently.  In Melton this will take a big step forward in October 2013 when Jobcentre Plus are scheduled to move into Parkside from their existing offices on Scalford Road.

Melton Borough Council Deputy Leader, Pam Posnett, said “the work we have done to help people prepare for the introduction of Universal Credit, together with the co-location of Jobcentre Plus in Parkside really does give us an outstanding opportunity to help more people to be more financially independent in the future through finding work”.