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Department surveys claimant attitudes to welfare reform

The Department for Communities has published results of its survey of the attitudes of people who currently claim benefits towards welfare reform. This report establishes a baseline  for future research the Department will carry out into experiences and attitudes of welfare reform and are part of a wider ongoing evaluation of welfare reform, which is being carried out by the Department. 

The Welfare Reform (NI) Claimant Baseline Surveys Report look at claimants' awareness of certain welfare reforms and their satisfaction with how changes have been communicated. 

Housing reforms

Respondents were asked questions in regard to their experience of the social sector size criteria, or bedroom tax. While the majority of those affected felt that commhnications in regard to this reform were clear, easy to understand and provided enough information about the change 29% of respondents disagreed with these statements. 

69% of respondents are unaware that the supplementary payments made to mitigate the impact of the bedroom tax would end on 31 March 2020, with 87% of respondents having no plans in place to deal with the additional costs when this payment ends. This reinforces our position that the end of mitigations is a fast-approaching cliff-edge, and that renewed focus is needed in order to  protect social security claimants from the harshest elements of ongoing welfare reform.

Survey suggests some claimants will struggle with migration to Universal Credit

The survey report includes a baseline of respondents’ attitudes towards making legacy benefit claims, against which perception of UC will be measured in the future. Responses show that a large number of claimants either do not or are not interested in doing certain tasks online, something which indicates a looming crisis for those likely to migrate to UC, who will have to contend with the benefit's largely digital administration.

While 49% of these respondents said that they use the internet everyday, 27% said they do not use the internet at all. 44% of respondents would not be willing to make an application for a benefit or tax credit. 60% of respondents would need help or support to do this. 

Worryingly, despite the possibility of a change in circumstances triggering migration to UC at any stage for most benefit claimants, most respondents indicated that they had little or no knowledge of Universal Credit. 38% of respondents had heard about the benefit but knew nothing about it, while 23% have never heard of Universal Credit. 


Tagged In

Benefits, Welfare Reform