Universal Credit is the new payment system which is set to collate and replace all the different types of income assessed benefits. These include:

  • Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit

The main purpose of Universal Credit is to bring together all the different forms of financial support which the government offers to both those seeking employment and those already in employment. It will be accessed and monitored online, and should theoretically reduce risk for people moving between systems. It will also help to ensure that support is reduced consistently when people return to work. However there are some concerns that the new Universal Credit system, which is currently being tested, will not be able to handle the large numbers of people accessing the system.

How Will Universal Credit Affect Healthcare?

Because Universal Credit is effectively intended to bring all benefit payments under one roof, this should feasibly make it easier for people to access and pay for healthcare when they need it. But there are many people who are worried that this new system will impair people’s ability to access healthcare at all levels, including during the transition between unemployment and full time work. In particular, the fact that all claimants will be required to access the system online may lead to vulnerable, disabled or elderly people being left at an immediate disadvantage.

The main point which has been raised is that healthcare providers, including GPs, pharmacists, dentists and optometry providers like Varilux.com, will need additional support and guidance in how to process Universal Credit claims. As yet, forms such as the GOS (General Ophthalmic Services) have not yet been updated to include the Universal Credit option, which means patients who are currently in receipt of UC will find it much harder to access eye care, especially if they have limited means.

The Future of Universal Credit

Universal Credit has been a long time in the making, and now it’s here, it looks set to stay. But the transition will most likely prove to be difficult for many people, who don’t understand how to claim through the new system. In addition, many people – particularly the disabled – look set to have their benefits reduced, which is sure to be a blow for the many thousands of people who are currently claiming.

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