Digital universal credit system breaches principles of law and stops claimants accessing support

Published on: 27 June 2023

Digital aspects of universal credit (UC) routinely lead to wrong amounts being awarded to claimants – often the most vulnerable – and to breaches of rule-of-law principles, new Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) research finds.

The three-year study found that while the digital nature of the benefit has some advantages for UC claimants, the way the digital systems have been designed also leads to people being left without money they are entitled to and information they need in order to challenge DWP decisions.   In the worst cases claimants are forced into acute hardship because the programming and operation of this digital- by-design benefit does not align with social security legislation. The charity’s report catalogues numerous injustices and breaches of rule-of-law principles in the operation of digital UC systems and reveals the extent to which its workings are opaque for claimants and researchers. 

Problems uncovered by CPAG’s research include people missing out on additional support they are entitled to because the online claims process does not identify their need, families going without their entitlements for all children because verification paperwork is pending for one child and care leavers unable to submit a digital claim in advance of their 18th birthday even though DWP guidance enables this.

Worryingly, the research found that in the year ending February 2023, approximately one-third of the 2.9 million registrations for UC did not result in a claim being submitted at all yet there appears to be no DWP information in the public domain on why the drop-out rate is so high.   CPAG’s research suggests that aspects of the digital claim form that make it difficult for some claimants to complete the form and establish their entitlement may explain at least some of these abandoned claims.

An embargoed summary of CPAG’s report, You reap what you code: universal credit, digitalisation and the rule of law is here  The full report is HERE

Digital universal credit system breaches principles of law and stops claimants accessing support | CPAG

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