Paul Spicker has written a new blog about problems related to Universal Credit:
The problems that he lists include
- the muddled system for verification, which cannot be done online
- the demand for instant assessment, rather than basing claims on previous, known income
- the unpredictability of a system where entitlements can be revised at short notice before payment date
- the use of individuated payment dates
- the lack of effective coordination with taxation
- the confused treatment of self-employed people
- the high taper rates
- the alterations to work allowances, which mean among other things that contact will no longer be maintained
- the effect of fluctuating entitlement on household management, particular evident in the treatment of rent
- the impact of the system on housing finance, and
- arrangements for transition that lead to major income loss.
Beyond that, in terms of the overall design of the benefit, there are several systemic flaws:
- the complex means test
- the reliance on digital systems
- the reliance on immediate access to information that people cannot know about
- the high tapers
- the failure to individuate claims
- the lack of flexibility, and
- the central confusion about employment and job-seeking – once the system is fully rolled out, most claimants on Universal Credit will not be seeking work.
The operational problems are all difficult, requiring a rethink of policy and administration to make the system work. However, even if they were all to be resolved, the fundamental defects in the system would remain.