Advice Column: Pausing Universal Credit

Thursday 21st September 2017

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column we focus on problems with Universal Credit.

 I read recently that Citizens Advice has been calling on the Government to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit. What is Universal Credit and what problems have you found with it so far?

Universal Credit is being introduced across the UK in stages. It replaces 6 ‘means-tested’ benefits- these are benefits you can get if your income and savings are below a certain level. Universal Credit replaces:

  • Housing Benefit
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income Support

The biggest differences are:

  • you can get Universal Credit if you’re unemployed but also if you’re working
  • you’ll get a single payment each month, rather than weekly or fortnightly
  • instead of getting separate housing benefit, housing costs are paid directly as part of the monthly Universal Credit payment

We support the aim of Universal Credit to simplify the benefit system. Since Universal Credit was launched, nationally, Citizens Advice has helped over 48,000 people with Universal Credit issues. Our data shows that Universal Credit is already failing many people. It is forcing people into debt and leaving them unable to make ends meet.

In October, the Government plans to dramatically increase the roll-out, putting hundreds of thousands more people at serious financial risk. In Exeter, the full roll-out of Universal Credit is due to begin in June 2018.

We are calling on the Government to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit until they fix 3 significant problems:

  • People are waiting up to 12 weeks for their first payment without any income.
  • Universal Credit is too complicated and people are struggling to use it.
  • People aren’t getting help when the system fails them.

More information and advice about Universal Credit is available at: or by calling our helpline on 03444 111 444.

Look out for our column next week when we focus on the Supreme Court decision on employment tribunal fees.

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date version, please visit the Citizens Advice website at