Thousands of Wakefield Universal Credit claimants forced to wait for first payment

Thousands of people in Wakefield have been forced to wait more than five weeks for their first Universal Credit payment, it's been revealed.
Thousands of people in Wakefield have been forced to wait more than five weeks for their first Universal Credit payment, it's been revealed.

Thousands of Universal Credit claimants in Wakefield are being forced to wait longer than five weeks for their first payment, it’s been revealed.

People previously entitled to any one of six benefits are being gradually moved onto Universal Credit, under controversial government plans which began at the end of 2018.

But the rollout of the new system has been beset by administrative problems, with one in five new claimants facing serious delays in getting the cash they need.

And Wakefield Council says there is evidence that people are struggling to fill in registration forms, possibly causing them long waits too.
As of July this year, a total of 18,659 people across the district were on Universal Credit.

A report going before senior councillors next week said: “Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) information shows that in Wakefield 81.3 per cent of all claims are fully paid on time with a further 7.5 per cent of claims receiving at least some payment of on time.

“This means that all claimants must wait at least five weeks for their first
payment but one in five are waiting longer than this (even if they have provided all the necessary information).

“There is also anecdotal information, which indicates that some people struggle to complete the online claim form and do not provide all the information required to complete the claim.

“It is not possible to quantify the number but these people are will be waiting even longer, before getting any payment.”
The government says that the rollout of Universal Credit will make the welfare system more simple and fairer.

But in Wakefield, the Labour-run council has dismissed the new system as “outrageous” and “disgusting”.

There was consternation last October, ahead of the rollout, when the local authority threatened to defy government instructions over the level of support claimants should be given.

Citizen’s Advice is now giving advice and help to those entitled to Universal Credit, but Wakefield Council has continued to offer its own support service to residents.