Universal Credit roll out in Great Yarmouth

Job Centre Plus in Kent. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive

Job Centre Plus in Kent. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive - Credit: PA

Sweeping changes to the way benefits are paid are to be rolled out to new claimants in Great Yarmouth.

The borough’s job centre, based in The Conge, is so far the only one in the whole of the Central England region to have launched the full Universal Credit service.

The new system combines the payment of six working age benefits for the first time and benefits are paid monthly instead of fortnightly.

Stephen Lankester, the East Anglian district operations leader for the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “The system should help people feel that even some work is beneficial.

“More and more people in places with seasonal employment like Yarmouth and Lowestoft are working in the Norwich or Ipswich travel to work area.”

Mr Lankester said the system would help people find a job which could develop into a career.

It scheme is completely based online, although people who struggle to use a computer can get help from job centre staff. It is due to be introduced across the whole country by 2020.

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The Coalition government brought in the reforms in 2012 as ministers believed the old system was too complex and there were insufficient incentives to encourage people on benefits to start paid work or increase their hours.

However, critics including The Resolution Foundation have said Universal Credit could leave 2.5 million families worse off, some by more than £3,000 a year.

The six working age benefits Universal Credit pulls together are Job Seekers’ Allowance, Income Support Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Tax Credits, Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit.

Other offices across Norfolk have trialled the Universal Credit live service, where new single non-householders claimants can receive the benefit.

The other areas which are rolling out the new system are Croydon, Hounslow, Musselburgh, Purley, Southwark, Sutton and Thornton Heath.