Universal Credit: DWP confirms help for 'vulnerable'

'Vulnerable' claimants will get personalised help with their Universal Credit claims, and some may even continue to see their housing benefits paid directly to their landlords, ministers have confirmed today.

Split payments between different household members could also be considered.

The Government was last week accused of failing to clearly define what it means by 'vulnerable'. 

However, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) today cited people with a history of addiction, mental health conditions or those at risk of domestic abuse as potential examples of vulnerable people.

According to the DWP, a joint network of Jobcentre Plus, local authorities and other local organisations will work together, providing bespoke services to benefit claimants who might need help with their budgeting or getting online.

Cases will be considered on an individual basis, and some people in vulnerable circumstances could be eligible for alternative arrangements.

In cases like these, payments direct to landlords, more frequent than monthly payments, or split payments between different household members could be considered.

Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: "Universal Credit will prepare people for the world of work by getting them to access the benefit online and budget their money in the same way people in work budget. But we know some people will need extra support to manage this, and we’re committed to ensuring that no one falls through the cracks.

"We are working with local authorities and local services to determine who will need this extra help - be it money advice services, face to face support or help to get online - and how best to deliver it."

A Local Support Services Framework, which sets out the principles for that support and calls for views and feedback from potential local partners, has been published today by the DWP and the Local Government Association (LGA).

Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the LGA, said: "Universal Credit represents a big change to the benefits system with different demands on how claimants manage their affairs. It makes sense to recognise that people will need help adapting to that new system, and that some will need ongoing support. The pilot areas are already showing that councils will be pivotal to drawing together the public, voluntary and private sectors to help people access benefits online, manage their finances and find work.

"I am glad that the DWP and LGA have worked together to recognise that Universal Credit does not end councils’ part in the benefit system, but transforms it from a processing role to a clear focus on helping to change people’s lives."