Millions of benefits claimants to struggle with Universal Credit
Over 2.7 million benefits claimants will struggle to manage their money once Universal Credit is introduced, according to the Payments Council.
It surveyed over 6,000 adults and found that 50% of people who are eligible for Universal Credit believe the change will make it more difficult to manage their money.
The majority said they were most concerned about falling into debt, increasing their debt, and struggling to pay bills or rent on time.
The Payments Council said the main issue is that around half of people affected by the Universal Credit changes have not thought about how they will budget differently once they have been switched to monthly payments.
Under the new scheme, weekly or fortnightly payments will shift to monthly payments and Housing Benefit will be paid to the claimant's bank account instead of going directly to a landlord or housing association.
Universal Credit has already been rolled out in some areas, and is being introduced in six more areas (Hammersmith, Inverness, Rugby, Harrogate, Bath and Shotton) from this month.
Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the Payments Council, said: "The introduction of Universal Credit means that people will have to be savvier about managing their money and will have to plan for the whole month instead of budgeting on a weekly basis. Understanding payments can help manage cash flow."
Fiona Weir, chief executive of single parent family charity Gingerbread, added: "We know that families are good at managing small amounts of money coming in at different times, but moving to monthly budgeting under universal credit will be a big change. There will also be a big focus on online claims, so now's the time to start getting ready by improving your computer skills, and getting a bank account set up."
Pay Your Way, the Payments Council's research arm, has produced a guide for families affected by Universal Credit, available from PayYourWay.org.uk.