Universal Credit (UC) is a new simpler, single monthly payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income. It aims to help claimants and their families to become more independent and to simplify the benefits system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits into a single payment. Universal Credit is being introduced gradually, and was initially introduced from April 2013 in certain areas of the North West, known as Pathfinder sites. Initial eligibility criteria for UC focused on single, unemployed, non-home owning claimants without any children.
This publication sets out key findings identified by the evaluation of Universal Credit delivery in the North West Pathfinder, which included:
- A three wave longitudinal telephone survey of 901 UC claimants in Pathfinder areas, along with two comparator surveys of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants to facilitate comparisons with the existing benefit system.
- Qualitative research with 40 early UC claimants in two Pathfinder areas.
The evaluation aimed to learn lessons to feed in directly to improvements to UC operations on the ground. Action planning has taken place regularly to ensure that learning points are captured and improvements made in response.The focus of this report is on high level findings relating to early implementation and delivery of UC in the North West Pathfinder, rather than an assessment of outcomes from UC or its impact.