New workers to benefit from Universal Credit

WIGAN youngsters who have recently found employment will be better off under a controversial new benefits scheme, officials say.

The new Universal Credit (UC) system – part of the coalition’s flagship welfare reform programme – will be trialled in the borough this month.

And government officials say single people under 25 will continue to receive support after they have found employment.

Currently, Working Tax Credit is withdrawn once claimants find a job.

But under the new system they could be £54 a month better off if they are working 35 hours a week and earning minimum wage.

Maureen Stafford of Jobcentre Plus said: “UC will have a positive impact on young jobseekers, allowing them to take up the offer of a job and still qualify for support, depending on their earnings.

“Under the current system young people can find it frustrating that some jobs are beyond their grasp because they won’t qualify for working tax credits.

“Universal credit will mean that many can still qualify for support to help them on to the first step of the career ladder.”

When a claimant starts work, their benefits will be “steadily withdrawn” as their income increases meaning they will continue to have a certain level of income support even after they have found a job.

The new system incorporates several existing benefits into one monthly payment which claimants must register for online.

Its detractors say that the poorest sections of society will be worse off under UC while the government maintains the reforms will streamline the benefits system.

Concerns have also been raised that disabled people and their families will have their payments reduced as a result of the reforms.

Wigan borough is set to be a pathfinder for the new scheme from next month after the initial start date in April was postponed until July. New claimants from postcodes WN1 to 6 will receive their benefits under UC.

Wigan Council officials are urging residents to get online to prepare for the system coming to the borough, in order to register for the monthly payments.

Alison Mckenzie-Folan, director of customer transformation, said: “Over the last few months we’ve hosted numerous online-based activities and money management courses to help residents get online and learn how to manage their money.”

For more information about the council support visit: go to: www.wigan.gov.uk/getonline