During Welsh Questions on Wednesday, I pressed the Minister about the issue of universal credit:
Gerald Jones (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, Labour): Q6, What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on reducing the time taken to make universal credit payments in Wales.
Stuart Andrew (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales): Diolch yn fawr, Mr Llefarydd. Rwy’n ddiolchgar i’m cydweithwyr am y croeso cynnes.
At the Budget, the Chancellor announced that all claimants will be eligible for universal credit from the first day that they claim it, removing the seven waiting days.
Gerald Jones: The DWP’s own analysis shows that half of those with rent arrears under universal credit said that they had gone into arrears after making a claim. Is the Minister content with the fact that more Welsh families who were not previously in arrears have begun 2018 in debt following their claim for universal credit?
Stuart Andrew: That is exactly why we made the announcements in the Budget. Now, households who already claim housing benefit will automatically receive an additional two weeks of housing benefit when they claim universal credit. We are responding to the lessons that we are learning, and we will continue to do so as we roll out the project.