Delivery arrangements for Universal Credit

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    This landed in my in-box a few minutes ago!

    The attached letter has been sent to local councils. It sets out the internal announcement made yesterday by the DWP on delivery arrangements for universal credit. The key point is that no decision has been made on the final delivery arrangements for universal credit when it is fully implemented in 2017. There is a very significant opportunity for local government to make the case for innovative local commissioning and delivery of face-to-face support within Universal Credit.

    Universal Credit remains a high priority issue for the District Councils’ Network. Cllr Peter Fleming from Sevenoaks and Chief Executive Allen Graham from Rushcliffe continue to work for the DCN with the LGA on this issue. The evidence the DCN collected from over 100 district councils on their benefit services has proved to be very useful evidence and has been used to support discussion between the LGA and the DWP.

    If you have any comments you would like passed on to the Lead Member, Cllr Peter Fleming or Chief Executive Allen Graham for the DCN to note or use please forward them to me.

    Emma Tucker
    Policy Support Officer
    District Councils Network
    0207 664 3049

    12th May 2011

    Dear colleague,


    The Department for Work and Pensions is making an internal announcement today of its plans for delivery arrangements for the new Universal Credit, which will bring together Housing Benefit for working-age people with other welfare benefits and with tax credits. I know that many colleagues have been taking a close interest in the implications of this change for the future council role in delivering benefits. This note gives a fuller account than the DWP announcement of what the decision about delivery arrangements means for councils.

    The central point is that no decision has yet been made about how Universal Credit will be delivered when it is fully up and running from 2017. Subject to that,

    • universal credit will apply to new customers from the autumn of 2013;
    • universal credit will be administered through a new online channel, callcentres and processing capability drawn from Jobcentre Plus and HMRC, and with Jobcentre Plus handling face-to-face business to start with, so new claims will not in general be handled by councils from 2013;
    • between now and 2017, councils will continue to deliver Housing Benefit for existing customers until those customers transition onto Universal Credit;
    • a transition plan will be published by the autumn of this year which sets out the scale and pace of transition for existing customers;

    But this is the picture for the initial go-live in 2013 only; there will now be further consideration of the long-term delivery landscape, and – potentially – pilots may be run of innovative delivery arrangements.

    In particular, I wanted to make it clear that the ongoing consideration of delivery arrangements for 2017 and afterwards will involve as a core option a model based on local commissioning and delivery of face-to-face support to customers. The government’s work on delivery options to date has looked closely at the innovative models councils have developed, often in partnership with other public, private and voluntary organisations. These models, together with DWP’s past experience of exercises such as “Tell Us Once”, have made a strong impression. There is a very significant opportunity for local government to make the case for innovative local commissioning and delivery of face-to-face support within Universal Credit.

    Moreover, it is important to understand why DWP has decided on a delivery arrangement for 2013 that involves minimal organisational change. The logic of this position is that the introduction of Universal Credit is in itself a very major change that carries significant risks, and that it would be a needless extra risk to undertake organisational change as part of the initial introduction of the new Credit. It would therefore be a mistake to read into the decision about 2013 delivery any negative message about the potential for new and more localised arrangements in Universal Credit’s steady state; and – we’d suggest – therefore even more of a mistake not to continue to make the case for new localised arrangements. Elected members at the LGA are keen that we should continue to do that and I hope you will agree that we, and other representative bodies involved in the discussions with DWP, should continue to make that case.

    You will also be aware, of course, that there is a separate conversation going on with the government about the localisation of council tax reliefs, where the government’s policy is not to include council tax benefit in Universal Credit. We will update you separately on that.

    Yours sincerely,

    Paul Raynes,
    Programme Director,
    LG Group,


    Or maybe it reads “We’ll give it a go first, but might have to give it back to you when we mess it up”

    Anthony Sandys

    I’ve always had a sneaky suspicion that the reason the DWP are putting so much resource into the ATLAS project is that this could be their credible plan B?

    Lee Fearon

    I’m a pessimist. To me this reads; “keep working hard until we pull the plug in 2017”. And opportunities for “local Commisioning” reads privatisation.

    Apologies Nick, it’s Friday and the weather here’s good. I should be in a more positive frame of mind.


    I don’t believe the decison makers at the DWP don’t think very highly of us at LA’s – they say they have seen excellent delivery models in LA’s – mine and a few others who are performing at the top consistantly are cited, but we place a heavy emphasis on face to face work – get it right first time, and this is contrary to the DWP plan for UC domination even though it costs us less becasue we only do value work.

    I personally would deliver the whole UC service for our residents if given the chance and I know it would be a fantastic service, but what I won’t do it pick up the scraps from the DWP and provide a front end service which means duplication and waste for my customers. As a manager with 27 years experience of delivering bad/good and bloody excellent services I cannot go back to the embarrassment of backlogs and delays, misinformation, making peoples lives worse and generally being :exmark: seen as incompetent and inefficient.

    that feels good to be off my chest!!!


    ignore the second don’t !!!

    Lee Fearon


    I agree. The LA staff offering the frontline service will get critcised if delays or errors occur in the assessment process, even though we’d have no control over the processing of claims.


    Dawn’s LA is a great example of how benefits should be delivered, by designing the service to do the things that matter to the customer (e.g. putting expertise on the front line, giving front line staff the responsibility of owning the whole end-to-end process, etc).

    However, we all know of LAs out there that are aren’t so great, and provide a poor (often call centre based) service because they are more concerned with making the customers work for them, so they can meet targets and make up the numbers.

    If we are ever going to have a hope of convincing the government that LAs should deliver UC, we need to get all of us providing they type of service delivered by Dawn’s LA.

    The big question is, how are we going to do it?


    …and where will claimants go and to whom will they vent their anger if they don’t like the new product? To the LA office if that is chosen as the face to face point of contact in the claims process for the more vulnerable members of society.The more I hear about this whole UC development (and that’s not a lot because answers to key fundamental questions are not forthcoming), the less I would want to be associated with it in any shape or form.

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