11/07/2013 13:44 BST | Updated 10/09/2013 06:12 BST

Universal Credit: Next Steps

On 10 July we announced the next steps of the progressive roll-out of Universal Credit. We're taking a safe and controlled approach to this because we want to get it right.

Universal Credit will roll six benefits and tax credits into one to simplify the system and ensure people are better off in work. We are currently testing this in two areas of the North West, with another two starting later this month. We will then extend to a further six areas after October.

The current welfare system holds people back from getting into work and too often traps them on benefits. That has to change. That's why we are bringing in this fundamental reform.

It's not just the maddening complexity of the current system - the uncertainties around whether it pays to work under the current rules have made stepping off benefits and into employment all too hard for many people.

So this is not just about changing one set of benefits and tax credits for a different set. It's about changing the lives of people who end up on welfare, helping more people take those steps into work so they can improve the lives of their families.

Universal Credit will prepare people for the world of work. Claiming Universal Credit online, having it paid monthly into a bank account, making it your full time task to find work, and making work pay - these are the keys to getting people out of the benefits trap.

Since April we've tested the system in areas of Greater Manchester and Cheshire. Those tests have gone well and the system is working. People have successfully made their claim online, and they've had the help and support they need. Now we are starting to expand it to six other areas of the UK in a safe, controlled and managed way.

We are not going for a 'big bang' approach because that isn't the best way to do something that will eventually affect millions of households by 2017. Our approach to big projects like this is to test, learn, refine and progress. We've already taken this approach with the Benefit Cap and the Personal Independence Payment.

We're rolling out Universal Credit in a progressive way. We've started by taking claims from people with straightforward circumstances; single and newly unemployed. This lets us test the system in a controlled way. We'll then move onto people with more complex circumstances. We'll learn and refine what we do. We want to get this transformative reform right. I think that's a responsible way to do things.

We will bring in this reform safely and by 2017. It will make a huge difference to people's lives and bring fairness to the system and that's why it's vital we get it right.