Archive for October 10th, 2011

Perceptions of welfare reform and Universal Credit

A report based on qualitative research by the Department for Work and Pensions has been published to explore the views of claimants, staff, employers and the wider public about Universal Credit. This is the first in a series of reports on research commissioned to inform the design and delivery of Universal Credit.

In total, over 200 respondents in a range of circumstances were engaged through a mixture of focus groups, case studies and in-depth interviews. Research was conducted in six locations across Britain between December 2010 and January 2011.


  • A broad consensus on the need for reform to the welfare and benefits system.
  • Broad support for most of the underlying principles of reform, particularly the aim of increasing fairness, which was interpreted by respondents as the ability to discriminate between those with genuine need and those without.
  • However, awareness of Universal Credit was low at this early stage.
  • Respondents felt Universal Credit should positively incentivise work to ensure that it is unquestionably more rewarding to work than receive benefits. The degree of financial incentive, however, was not seen as sufficiently compelling.
  •  Reactions to the single, integrated payment were mixed. The prospect of a ‘one-stop shop’ was favorably viewed but a potential was also seen for increased risks of placing ‘all eggs in one basket’ in terms of having all benefits issued by one entity in case something goes wrong.
  • The possibility of monthly payment emerged as a significant concern for many and there was strong preference for an option to be provided for more frequent payment.
  • There was a perception that the online service delivery channel could lead to lower compliance and increased fraud. In addition, online delivery was an issue for those without access or confidence in using the internet.
  • There was general suspicion of the Government’s motives for introducing Universal Credit, and about whether the change would make people genuinely better off.


Click here to access the report


Website: DWP


Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support


Read Full Post »


For immediate release


8 October 2011



ERSA comment on NCVO voluntary sector provider survey

The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade body for the welfare to work industry, today responds to the survey by the National Council of Voluntary Organisations on the experience of voluntary sector providers of the Work Programme.

ERSA strongly believes that all providers should act fairly and responsibly and that ERSA members should abide by its Code of Conduct, the principles of which are enshrined in the Merlin Standard.

Although it is important to note that referrals to Work Programme have yet to settle down, it is clear that there is a significant concern with the underperformance of Atos, the government contractor for the Work Capability Assessments.   ERSA believes that voluntary sector providers may have been disproportionately disadvantaged by the low level of Work Capability Assessments taking place and the subsequently low level of customers on Employment Support Allowance who have been referred to the Work Programme.  Many of these customers would, on referral, be in receipt of specialist services, many of which are provided by charities.

A recent Freedom of Information request indicated that Atos has completed 56,000 Work Capability Assessments since the commencement of the national roll out.  This is against an expected figure of 11,000 cases being assessed each week.

Kirsty McHugh, ERSA Chief Executive, commented:

‘It is vital that people in need of specialist employment services receive them.  It is unacceptable that the delay in carrying out Work Capability Assessments means that some of the people who need the most help are not being referred to the Work Programme in a timely matter.  This is a particularly significant issue for ERSA voluntary sector members who often provide this type of specialist employment support.  We are therefore calling on the government to take urgent action to make sure that the backlog of WCAs is cleared and we can get referrals rolling to the voluntary sector.’


Notes to editors

  1. ERSA is the trade association for the welfare to work industry.  It represents 90% of those organisations that have been awarded prime contractors for the Work Programme and 90% of providers for Work Choice, the government’s new specialist disability programme.  ERSA’s membership is split 50/50 between voluntary and private sector.
  2. A response to a FOI request published on 23 September (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/foi-2310-2011.pdf) reveals the numbers having undergone a WCA to date. A statement on 25 January 2011  (Hansard: Column 6WS) stated that Atos would be processing a full caseload of around 11,000 per week.
  3. ERSA’s chief executive can be contacted at kirsty.mchugh@ersa.org.uk or on 07932 792 435.

Read Full Post »

320,000 disabled children live in poverty in UK,


The Children’s Society, have published new figures reporting that a “staggering” 320,000 of the 800,000 disabled children in the UK live in poverty, with 110,000 of these being in severe poverty. This puts an extra 32,000 disabled children in poverty compared to official poverty rates.

The statistics by the Children’s Society have been calculated to take into account the additional costs of caring for a child with a disability by removing the Disability Allowance paid to families. Once the extra costs of disability were considered, child poverty rates among disabled children increased from 36% to 40% – 10% above the rate for all children – and the equivalent of four in every 10 of disabled children. For those disabled children in a household with a disabled adult, this rose further to 49%.

Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said:

“These findings are staggering and very worrying. It seems that all forms of support for disabled children are seriously hampered when families live on a low income. Hidden costs, such as transport, heating and learning aids, are forcing more disabled children and young people and their families into poverty”.

The charity warn that welfare cuts would see these poverty rates rise further and are urging the government to “rethink” its plans for welfare reform. The introduction of the new Universal Credit would mean that more than 100,000 disabled children would lose as much as £27 a week, equalling almost £1,500 a year each.

More than 30 charities have launched an e-petition, called Don’t let disabled children pay the price of welfare reform, on the government’s website, which has so far received more than 5,000 signatures.

To read the report by The Children’s Society click here


Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

Read Full Post »