This month we had our Annual Public Meeting and spent some time working together on plans for the Universal Credit rollout locally. This will happen in March 2018 and there are plenty of things to think about and plans to make so that local people are properly supported through this change. Here is our report : CAK Annual Meeting Report
Our discussions were very topical as there had been significant media coverage of the challenges in the new system which had been a focus for press attention the previous weekend with the call from national Citizens Advice, various MPs and other interested parties for a ‘pause’ in roll out. One of the key issues was the length of time without any income for new claimants which reports indicate varies from 6-12 weeks. Another issue of concern is that payments are made to one individual in the family and rent then has to be paid on to a landlord (at the moment rent is paid directly to landlords). There are also worries about how people will manage budgeting when payments change from weekly or fortnightly payments to monthly. As always there is a further underlying concern about how people may make and manage claims online – will they have access to the internet and will they know how to use the system?
There were representatives from a range of agencies at our meeting and there was an overwhelming enthusiasm to work together to set up systems and processes to help local people successfully navigate the system. There will be another meeting in December for frontline staff to get briefed on partnership working on communications for claimants/shared training/ideas and experiences so that we are all prepared for the change and by working together we can alleviate some hardship and suffering.
There was also a keenness to gather and share evidence of how things work out for people in our community so that where there is lived experience of injustice or hardship, we can share this with policy makers so that they fully understand the impact of their decisions and, where possible work to make changes to mitigate suffering.