Unpublished research commissioned by the DWP, seen by the Guardian, reveals the extent to which socially excluded claimants will struggle with the huge cultural and behavioural changes demanded by universal credit. {jcomments on}

It warns that without help, those who fail to get to grips with the new welfare system will face debts, arrears and eviction, leading to a rise in homelessness.

Many benefit claimants will need extensive help to get online, open bank accounts and manage monthly budgets

The study, carried out by three London councils using DWP data and a methodology agreed with Whitehall officials, found they would each need to spend about £6m over a two-year period to support vulnerable claimants.

It suggests councils, charities and private companies will be required to deliver millions of hours of specialist training and support face-to face and over the telephone to ensure claimants are confident and technically proficient enough to use the system.

Around one in 10 users of the system are likely to need intensive or ongoing support, it finds.

The scale and cost will unnerve ministers, who are struggling to roll out the beleaguered £2.4bn universal credit system.

Ministers are expected to decide by Christmas whether to write off universal credit altogether and start again, or reduce it in size and complexity to make it more manageable.

The Centre for Social Justice thinktank, which helped design universal credit, urged ministers to take "great care" to ensure that vulnerable claimants are properly supported to use the system. "Unnecessary and unmanageable debt would severely undermine the important principle behind this welfare change," it said in a report this week.

The DWP-commissioned research warns that without urgent and intensive help for claimants, universal credit will exacerbate debt and arrears problems that have grown since the introduction of the bedroom tax in April. The study says this "could lead to an increase in eviction, repossession and homelessness".

Read the full story here

Thanks to Jim Allison for spotting this news article for us


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