Universal Credit pilot set to fly in our area
Bath & North East Somerset Council has been successful in being selected by the Government as one of twelve pilot locations for Universal Credit, the new single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income.
The Government is implementing a new system for benefits to be called Universal Credits which will incorporate housing benefits, presently paid by Local Authorities, as well as a range of other benefits including child and family tax credits, income support, job seekers allowance and Employment Support Allowance. The plan is for a simpler integrated system phased in from October 2013.
The Council will learn lessons that can be passed on to the Government to plan for an effective face to face delivery of this new Benefit.
The pilot will enable the council to work with Job Centre Plus and other partners to see how this way of working can help the implementation of Universal Credits, even when, from 2013, these benefits are no longer directly run by the Council.
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By shared use of the Council's One Stop Shops and similar ideas it is hoped that it will be possible to develop ways of working that can be used nationally to create better local access to benefits, greater efficiency and less dependence on the ability of everyone to access the web. It is also intended that the arrangements will help customers to receive or be signposted to other public services as appropriate.
Councillor David Bellotti (Lib-Dem, Lyncombe), Cabinet Member for Community Resources, said, "The Council have worked really hard to develop this bid which the Government have responded to positively by giving us pilot status. We will be at the forefront of setting examples for other local authorities across the country."
"Universal Credit has been designed as an online service, but the Government understands that some people may still need face-to-face support. Our pilot will examine how face-to-face services can help people to become digitally independent."
The Council's housing benefits service has already been praised by customers because it is quick and easy to use, allows face to face contact using the Council's one stop shops and is also now one of the most efficient in the country.
The pilot is set to go live later in the year and the Council will be issuing further details prior to the scheme going live.
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