According to the DWP website, the aim of universal credit is to simplify and streamline the benefits system for claimants by bringing together a range of benefits and credits into a single system. The online services are expected to help improve people’s job seeking skills as well as giving them the ability to use various internet services.
The pilot schemes will be used to see how local organisations and councils can help support claimants of universal credit and how face-to-face services can help people to become digitally independent.
Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform, said: “We know some people will need support when they first claim universal credit and these projects will highlight how councils can use their local expertise to help residents.”
Sir Merrick Cockell, chair of the Local Government Association, said that universal credit marked an “enormous shift” in the way benefits and tax credits were to be administered, further stating that it was important that people received the right support “both during and after the transition“.
The pilots are to be implemented in Birmingham, Oxford, Bath and North East Somerset, Caerphilly, Dumfries and Galloway, Lewisham, a partnership of Melton and Rushcliffe, Newport, North Dorset, North Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and West Lindsey.
Further pilot projects are due to be developed after 2015 to set the longer term role for councils in supporting universal credit claimants.