Helping hand? Improving Universal Credit

Ryan Shorthouse, Sam Lampier and Anvar Sarygulov

March 2019

Universal Credit is one of the most significant reforms of the welfare system in the UK for decades. Initially, it enjoyed widespread support. But as Universal Credit has gone from idea to implementation, the cross-party consensus has dissipated.

Despite welcome improvements made by government in recent years, there have been examples and evidence of significant hardship experienced by some on Universal Credit. Mounting hostility and polarisation in attitudes towards Universal Credit underlines the need for a balanced assessment of the experiences of different claimants. This report aims to do just that.

This report explores the impact of the unique and key design features of Universal Credit during three critical stages of the claimant experience: accessing, managing on, and progressing on Universal Credit. Original policies are proposed to minimise some of the common challenges faced by a sizeable minority of claimants, as well as to ensure that more claimants can enjoy the positive experiences many already have.

Read the report