When I first read this was going to happen I questioned the motivation apart from the obvious to the effect this would have on those reliant on services like the CAB. Universal Credit affects those ‘in work’ as well as those unable to do so .
Would they be ‘gagged’ from attacking Government Policy? Well I decided to call CAB and find out myself asking some probing questions and to my surprise apart from their press statement in which they quoted;
“At Citizens Advice we’ve always provided support to people who have problems with benefits — from JSA to Tax Credits, Housing Benefits, ESA , PIP and now UC. Last year we helped 600,000 people with welfare benefits issues, helping them understand what they are entitled to, navigate the application process — and to challenge Government when they get it wrong. We will continue to do this important work. This funding agreement does not stop us from raising problems with Universal Credit publicly and it does not compromise the impartiality or confidentiality of the advice and support we give to people — these are red lines we never cross, including when it comes to funding.
We’ve always said we agree with the aims and principles of Universal Credit — to create a benefit system that is simpler to access and easier for people to understand. Fixing Universal Support is important and very welcome, but UC still has many challenges. Ahead of the Managed Migration regulations and the Budget we will not hold back in sharing our evidence to support the people we are here to help.”
These to me were fundamental questions that needed answering to allay fears that claimants and those seeking support to claim Universal Credit needed answers too . This would also stop Campaigners being worried that claimants would be compromised.
So it is hoped that these answers will do that, and make those needing to use the service less worried about using it and enabling them the support and help they so badly need. Colin Baker from CAB press office stated the responses below:
I asked if this has meant they effectively been gagged by the grant process and they say they have not “Nothing in the grant agreement we have with the DWP prevents us from continuing to raise our evidence publicly about Universal Credit”.
Secondly I asked about way their operation worked and the money will go to CAB HQ and then their hubs bid to get a slice of the cake , so this doesn’t mean everyone will!
I then asked how this pot money would be spent “We will now offer support through every step of the process of making and managing a Universal Credit claim. This will be in addition to our core service of offering advice on welfare benefit issues. Our new service will be available across England, Scotland and Wales – online, over the phone and in person.”
Yes I did ask for copy of the grant contract which was declined, on the grounds they are only released to public bodies that need it. IE DWP
I was sent a blog link for readers https://wearecitizensadvice.org.uk/universal-credit-whats-next-b377828a767e
Universal Credit is a ideologically driven policy, and many MP’s have raised concerns over the vast amounts of public funds being spent to administer it, let alone the problems that have arisen and caused chaos for those needing state support. The government has presently got a consultation on the managed migration of millions more of those individuals it promised to protect from any fall in income due to severity of their needs.
So have CAB sold out, I don’t believe they have. With many services offering advice already under extreme pressure this can only be a good thing that a trusted service by many is now getting funding to support more people through the ‘whole process’ to ensure they get correct advice and make it less painful to a already brutal system when it goes wrong it can leave claimants penniless for weeks. This will be done via Universal Support Scheme which is part of Universal Credit’s Programme.
Link to DWP announcement https://www.gov.uk/government/news/citizens-advice-to-provide-support-to-universal-credit-claimants
It is likely that they can use such funds to open more often or recruit more trained advisers to deliver the service. Helping Claimants manage their claims when Internet access isn’t always available or affordable can only be a positive move in the right direction as it is unlikely the government will back down on the roll out of this policy.
Increasingly a flurry of articles by the Huff and The Times and others are doing their best to undermine the credibility of CAB and the only loser will be those needing support. Anyone doing work with the government are required not to disclose contract details it is standard contract law practise to safeguard both parties. It isn’t anything sinister as it is being purported to be!
So it is safe for claimants and those who need support to go to CAB for assistance on Personal Budgeting and fill in online claims reducing the amount of serious problems this process causes so many.