Universal credit advice now available on big TVs everywhere

Wed, 15/01/2014 - 12:48 -- nick

The government has announced that universal credit advice will now be made available on TV red buttons.

Universal credit is the coalition's flagship welfare policy, and will roll six separate benefits together into one single payment.

It will be paid monthly rather than fortnightly to claimants, leading to fears that many will struggle to budget and that those who used to get housing benefit paid direct to landlords may fall into arrears.

To combat the lack of knowledge of universal credit in those who don't have internet access, advice will be available to those who have Sky or Virgin TV by pressing the red button on their remote controls.

The government's provision of this advice is an apparent response to outcries over benefit claimants having big televisions.

Iain Duncan Smith appears to have been reading stories like that in The Express last year, which wrote of a housing benefit-funded home having a 'huge flat-screen TV' as evidence of the over-generosity of the welfare system.

The hated Channel 4 programme 'Benefits Street' also prompted many criticisms on Twitter about the presence of big TVs in some residents' homes.

Smith seems to have decided that these appliances provide an opportunity to communicate with claimants.

This could be a way of working around the failure of the IT system currently being constructed; he may feel that Sky and Virgin's platforms offer a more viable and reliable way of carrying information.

Reports that the TV companies will be asked to manage the whole universal credit system are unconfirmed.

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