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Are you on Universal Credit? Your experience is wanted

Introduced by the government in recent years, Universal Credit is already a reality for many working-age claimants in Hastings and will become so for many more in the future. Sophie Negus, a PhD student at Sheffield Hallam University, is investigating how this new form of benefit is impacting the lives of those who receive it. She has decided to carry out her research in Hastings, her home town, where she wishes to speak to recipients of the benefit, as she explains.

Universal Credit is the new benefit for all working-age claimants and replaces the six existing means-tested ‘legacy’ benefits (Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit).

It is now fully rolled out across the country for new claimants and for people who have had a change of circumstances. Currently, it is estimated that by the end of 2023 all existing ‘legacy’ claimants – those already in receipt of benefits whose circumstances have not changed – will be transferred onto Universal Credit, although this process will only begin after a Government pilot study has been completed.

I think it is really important to find out about the everyday reality of claiming Universal Credit, for both people in and out of work. This research project is looking into the experiences of Universal Credit claimants and the impacts it has had on their lives. I have chosen to focus the research in Hastings and St Leonards, my home town.

In Hastings, Universal Credit has been in full service for new claimants since December 2016. According to the latest Government statistics, there are over 8,000 Universal Credit claimants attending the local Job Centre and over 1,000 claimants ‘working with requirements’.

This means a person is working and receiving Universal Credit, as they are on a low income, and have ‘requirements’ attached, such as to try and increase their hours or look for extra work. There is little known about attaching such requirements to working claimants, as it has not been used before. More generally, as a new benefit, there is limited information on how Universal Credit affects the lives of claimants and this is what the research is exploring.

For the research, I would like to speak to people who claim Universal Credit (in or out of work) and have ‘work-related requirements’ such as searching for work or increasing their hours. The interview covers people’s experiences, thoughts and feelings about Universal Credit and the practical and personal impacts claiming Universal Credit has had.

As a ‘thank-you’ for being interviewed, people receive a £10 gift voucher and have the option to continue their involvement in the research by keeping a diary and/or giving a second interview. A £10 gift voucher is also given for keeping a diary and giving a second interview; more details about this will be provided.

From this research, I hope to provide a detailed understanding of how Universal Credit affects claimants and the impacts it has on their day-to-day lives.

If you would like to be interviewed about your experiences of claiming Universal Credit, or for more information about the research, please contact me:

Posted 10:07 Friday, May 10, 2019 In: Grassroots

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