Universal Credit Mitigation Project 

(2018-19)

Universal Credit was introduced to some Southwark claimants in early 2017, with full roll-out starting in September.  Administration problems resulted in financial and emotional stress for many claimants, and a surge in demand on advice agencies who were struggling to keep up.  The Universal Credit Mitigation Project was developed by United St Saviour’s in discussion with key local agencies.  It invested additional funds into a consortium of local agencies over the critical 12 months of roll-out. Southwark Law Centre and Citizens Advice Southwark were able to increase advice and support available. Research was conducted by Advising Communities into how different groups are affected by Universal Credit, and the most effective ways of supporting them. This involved interviews with 143 claimants and 72 local agencies affected by the introduction of UC and a report published.

All Change – The Impact of Universal Credit in Southwark and in Lambeth concluded that:

  • Significant numbers of UC claimants are struggling. The complexities and administrative challenges of the new system are leading to widespread emotional and financial stress, with  vulnerable groups particularly affected.
  • The impact on the voluntary sector is huge. Claimants are turning to the already stretched local voluntary sector agencies for support and advice.
  • Personal, holistic and properly resourced support for claimants, that takes into account needs such as language and IT capabilities, is critical if Universal Credit has any chance of success.

The research has been submitted as evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.