Universal Credit online system penalises those without computer access
To make and manage a Universal Credit claim, it is necessary to go online. This week Jamie Stone challenged the New DWP Secretary to do more to assist those who face poor internet connections or a lack of confidence in using computers.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Jamie said:
“In the past I have mentioned the problem of the lack of online access in the remotest parts of my constituency, but in addition there is the problem of people in my constituency who cannot, as we say in the Highlands, work a computer. They do not have the skills. What is going to be done to address that issue?”
Responding, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd MP said:
“Yes, it is a very important point and one that we are well aware of. We cannot assume that everybody can, as the hon. Gentleman puts it, work a computer. We have made provision in the arrangements to ensure that people can have access and that job coaches can work with people remotely via telephone and also engage in their communities, perhaps in different places from the jobcentre.
“However, I will keep a careful eye on this issue to ensure that we are delivering a truly comprehensive service, so that everybody, whether they can work a computer or not, can access it.”
Commenting after the exchange, Jamie said:
“These days it seems to be the easy cop out for any Government about almost any public information and guidance is to say “oh it’s available online” as opposed to providing a human face behind a desk who can explain things. It’s a bad trend and one that I don’t like.
“As I said in my question to the Secretary of State I have constituents who find the whole idea of using a computer almost impossible. I’m bound to say that the Secretary of State’s answer was helpful, but I’d add that this is an issue that is not going to be easily solved and one to which I shall return in the future.”