Floundering DWP moves universal credit goalposts
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Universal Credit and also in Central Government
DWP figures show 33,000 households hit by benefit cap since April 2013
The Department of Work and Pensions has moved the goalposts to make it appear that more people have signed up to its new universal credit (UC) system.
Previously, a UC 'starter' was defined as someone who had completed the UC claim process, attended a UC interview with a personal adviser, and received a UC payment.
However, the DWP has now removed the condition that an individual must have receieved a payment to be classified as a 'starter' and has added the condition that they must have signed a claimant commitment, instantly bumping up the number of people who appear to be integrated in the UC system.
The DWP says that the move more closely reflects the number of individuals who have actually started UC.
In its latest UC statistical release, the department writes: "The impact of these changes and moving to a new more robust data source is that more actual starts have now been captured although the effect on previously published caseload figures has been minimal."
The changes have only made a very slight difference to the figures, but could lead to a dramatic increase in the number of people who appear to be on UC in the coming months.
The DWP's latest figures, adjusted to fit the new criteria, show that only 8,500 people started on UC between April 2013 and May 2014, representing a slight increase on the 6,570 people listed under the old conditions.
The latest data reveals that Oldham is currently the local authority area with the greatest UC caseload with 1,890.