The introduction of Universal Credit was the most significant reform to
the social security system for a generation. It integrates six means-tested,
working-age benefits into a single monthly payment, which tapers off as
claimants move into work or increase their income.
The social security system is integral to the UK’s social fabric. Any change
to it must be considered carefully or risk creating more harm than good.
Public health ‘lockdown’ measures to suppress COVID-19 were introduced
in March 2020. These measures inevitably affected the labour market and
led to record numbers of new applications for Universal Credit. Between 16
March 2020, when the lockdown came into effect, and 16 June 2020, the
DWP received 3.2 million new applications for Universal Credit.
In May 2020 the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us, “No doubt there will be more hardship to come. This lockdown is having a very significant impact on our economy. We are likely to face a severe recession, the likes of which we have not seen, and that will have an impact on employment