300,000 additional households into work due to Universal Credit – fanciful thinking?

    Press/Media: Other

    Description

    The Universal Credit was announced with much fanfare in late 2010 – with the aim of ‘radically simplifying the system to make work pay and combat worklessness and poverty’ [1]. A key claim made in the DWPs Universal Credit White Paper is that the new measure will reduce the number of workless households by around 300,000 within two to three years of its implementation. This claim – sourced to “internal analysis using the Department for Work and Pensions’ Policy Simulation Model” – has been widely picked up and reiterated in the media, including by Nick Clegg in The Guardian [2].

    Sceptical about this 300,000 figure, we used a Freedom of Information request to get details of the analysis the DWP used to generate it. Closer inspection shows that this figure was generated by inappropriate use of a fairly narrow piece of research and by making and sandwiching together broad assumptions and best-case scenarios – giving an over-optimistic prediction. There is evidence that some in the DWP were aware of how tenuous such conclusions are, but this uncertainty was hidden in what was presented to the public.

    Period20 Sep 2011

    Media coverage

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    Media coverage