Welfare Reform Bill

Additional memorandum submitted by Centre for Social Justice (WR 27)

A couple of clarifications that may be relevant:

1. Sheila Gilmore asked me a question on childcare; specifically evidence that childcare is expensive in the UK; I wasn’t able to cite a source at the time but found this article on my return to the office.  My point was that if the cost and delivery of childcare were improved, both parents and the government would benefit.

2. I was asked about my estimate of the additional cost of Universal Credit if paid on an individual basis.  I would like to stress that the estimate in my submission was very much a back of the envelope calculation, though useful and accurate enough to give a sense of scale.  Happy to explain or carry out more work on the calculation if required by the committee.

3. There were a series of questions about the ability of the Universal Credit to manage complexity and reduce fraud because of the length of the form and the need to inform DWP of changes in circumstances.  I feel the responses were misrepresented by the expert panel but wasn’t give the opportunity to point this out.  Members of the committee should be aware that

a. There are far fewer changes of circumstances (possible only home and family changes) that need to be reported under Universal Credit; changes to employment and earnings would be automatically captured via paye

b. These changes of circumstances would only need to be reported to a single agency, the DWP instead of three separate agencies with the misplaced assumption by claimants that the different agencies speak to each other and share information; one common source of fraud

A single, slightly longer form with a single point of contact is far more effective and likely to reduce fraud than having similar, yet confusing, information requests from three different agencies.

March 2011