Economic Affairs Committee
Universal Credit isn’t working: proposals for reform

2nd Report of Session 2019-21 - published 31 July 2020 - HL Paper 105



Chapter 1: Introduction

Universal Credit and social security

Our approach to reform

COVID-19 pandemic

Witnesses and advisers

Chapter 2: Universal Credit design

Box 1: What is Universal Credit?

Design and the claimant experience

Monthly assessment period

Length of the assessment period

Parameters of the assessment

Income and needs

Figure 1: Mismatches between an assessment period and pay dates

Box 2: Case studies provided by Citizens Advice Leicestershire

Whole-month approach to changes in circumstances

Assessment period: alternatives

Monthly payment frequency

Alternative payment frequencies

Real time information

Five-week wait

Box 3: Case studies on the five-week wait provided by Refuge

Single household payment

Self-employed claimants

Box 4: Minimum income floor

Housing support

Box 5: Case study on rent arrears provided by the Welcome Centre

Alternative Payment Arrangements

Childcare support

Chapter 3: Managing on Universal Credit

Social security: spending cuts

Adequacy of awards

Table 1: Monthly standard allowance rates for Universal Credit

Table 2: Planned uprating in additional monthly payments

Who gains and who loses?

Figure 2: Impact of Universal Credit on adults in households
entitled to means-tested benefits, by family type per year (share of all entitled adults in brackets)

Food poverty

Box 6: Case studies provided by Karbon Homes

Standard allowance increase

Disabled claimants

Mixed-age couples


Box 7: Case study on deductions provided by Mind

Benefit cap

Two-child limit

Work incentives

Financial incentives to enter work

Incentives to progress in work

Improving work incentives

Chapter 4: Employment, sanctions and support


Table 3: Universal Credit conditionality regime


Figure 3: Percentage of Universal Credit claimants (live and full service) subject to conditionality with a sanction deduction, August 2015 to November 2019

Table 4: Universal Credit sanctions regime

Suspension of conditionality and sanctions

Conditionality and the labour market

Claimant Commitments

Box 8: Claimant Commitment case study provided by the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers

Efficacy of conditionality and sanctions

Sanctions and mental health

In-work progression

Personalised support and work coaches

Work coaches

Working with employers

Support: claiming and managing Universal Credit

Support: vulnerable claimants

Support: digital skills

Table 5: Ownership/use of internet and smartphone, by broad age and socio-economic group

Box 9: Case study provided by The Welcome Centre

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Appendix 1: List of Members and declarations of interest

Appendix 2: List of witnesses

Appendix 3: Glossary

Evidence is published online at and available for inspection at the Parliamentary Archives (020 7219 3074).

Q in footnotes refers to a question in oral evidence.

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