The Universal Credit rollout is forcing Welsh councils to spend more than £1 million, a spokesperson has claimed.
As many as 16 of the 22 councils in Wales reported that Universal Credit was a financial drain – even after they have claimed costs back from central government. This is because of the high number of people who need help navigating the application process and learning the necessary IT skills.
Anthony Hunt, Torfaen council leader and Welsh Local Government Association spokesperson, described the “massive hidden cost” faced by local authorities who must invest resources into supporting people who need help applying to the new benefits system – a system that is now only available online.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said councils can claim for extra costs linked to the benefits shake-up at any time, but Hunt said councils across Wales “haven’t had much luck getting anything even like a reasonable portion of that funded by the DWP”.
16 out of 22 Councils in Wales report that it is costing them more to support people with #UniversalCredit than they receive from the Government. People with disabilities often need longer term support & are at risk of being left in poverty if they don't get the help they need
— Susan Lloyd-Selby (@slloydselby) February 17, 2019
Speaking on BBC Sunday Politics Wales, Hunt also denied that councils can simply refer someone back to the job centre or to the government’s Universal Credit helpline. “That doesn’t recognise the reality of things on the ground,” he said. “You can’t send people who have had bad experiences back to the same place all the time. We’re dealing with people here, not statistics.”