UNIVERSAL credit was rolled out across Andover this week, meaning changes to the way that welfare can be claimed.

Universal Credit, which was introduced in the town on Wednesday, replaces six benefits with one monthly payment and is already being claimed by single jobseekers.

Residents who would previously have made a claim to income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income support, Working and Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit will instead claim Universal Credit.

It is hoped the new scheme will simplify the system and change welfare by making work pay, partly by helping those who are in work to increase their hours and earnings.

North West Hampshire MP and Minister for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, Kit Malthouse said:"Universal Credit lies at the heart of our commitment to help people transform their lives. While it’s fantastic that so many people want to start work or progress in a career, Universal Credit is both an in-and-out of work benefit, meaning it supports people into work while making sure the right care is in place for those who can’t.

"Making the move into employment can feel like a big step but Universal Credit helps smooth this transition by mirroring the world of work. It replaces the six main out-of-work benefits with one simple monthly payment, paid just like most salaries are. It also removes the disincentives to take up more work that were present under the old system, such as the 16-hour rule. This means that under Universal Credit people can increase their hours and keep more of what they earn – making sure work always pays.

"Work coaches based in Andover jobcentre will continue to provide face-to-face support to claimants who are looking for work.

"As well as the provision of ongoing, tailored support, we want to make sure people can get help from day one. That’s why we’ve made advance payments of 100 per cent available which can be paid on the first day if necessary. To help ease the transition for new claimants, we will continue to pay people’s Housing Benefit for two weeks when they move onto Universal Credit. And for those needing extra help with managing their payments, our jobcentre staff can help set-up direct payments to landlords.

"Our priority is to make sure that families in Andover – and across the UK – get the right support they need to get on and improve their lives. And through Universal Credit we are set to see more people move into and progress within work, in turn leading to brighter prospects for the future."