Amber Rudd Hints Universal Credit Roll-Out Could Be Delayed Again

"The priority for me is making sure we get it right."

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has hinted that the rollout of Universal Credit could be delayed even further.

Rudd – who was appointed to the role last month – told MPs she was keeping an “open mind” about the pace at which claimants are moved from legacy benefits to the government’s flagship scheme.

Between 2019 and 2023, more than two million people are set to be moved onto the much-criticised Universal Credit system, which charities and campaigners say pushes claimants into rent debt and leaves them relying on foodbanks.

But Rudd – who said that she had seen problems with the six-in-one benefits scheme in her own constituency – told parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee: “The priority for me is making sure we get it right”.

“We have particular concerns... about the most vulnerable in society and some of them will take a long time to get onto Universal Credit in terms of engaging with them and getting the transfers done effectively,” she said.

The former home secretary said her new department would “see how long we need” to ensure the managed migration.

“I would much rather every individual gets the personal attention and care getting onto Universal Credit than sticking to a prescribed timetable,” she told MPs.

The migration has already been delayed once, with the government announcing in October that it would begin in late 2019, rather than the initial January start-date.

Rudd’s comments come on the same day a report from the same committee warned that Universal Credit could have “disastrous” consequences for disabled people, with thousands set to lose out on “vital additional support”.

However, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said that more than a million disabled people would be £100 better off a month under Universal Credit.