Universal remedy: ensuring Universal Credit is fit for purpose
This Autumn marks the point at which the full Universal Credit system – serving all types of cases, rather than just the simplest ones that have dominated to date (the early rollout of UC focussed on the unemployment but not the more complex cases involving children, housing or disability) – is finally being put into place at scale. Given the delays that have beset the implementation process so far, this is an important milestone. However, it is even more important that the system that is introduced is fit for the 21st Century. With that in mind, the New Year brings with it a break in implementation to allow for an evaluation of the ramped up roll-out. It provides a perfect moment in which to re-assess and review both how the system is working and the sustainability of the underlying policy design.
This report builds on the work of Resolution Foundation’s 2015 expert panel-led review of UC, chaired by Nick Timmins. Where relevant, we update the analysis that fed into the conclusions of that review. Even in just a few years, there have been significant changes – both in terms of the economic backdrop and the budget in place for working age welfare. The future is always uncertain, but it’s clear that the nature of the challenge facing the UK’s welfare system has shifted somewhat over time. It’s less apparent, though, that UC has adapted to match this evolving environment.