The annual party conference season is at an end and MPs will be returning again to Westminster for what will be a very interesting autumn, not least as we get closer to the date of the UK leaving the European Union.
I spoke at a number of events at the Conservative Party conference, focused on my responsibilities as Employment Minister. This included discussions on building more inclusive work places, government support for business and the self-employed and the impact of automation and rise of artificial intelligence on the jobs market.
In my ministerial role I have responsibility for, amongst other things, our welfare benefit called Universal Credit. We introduced Universal Credit in 2015 to create a simpler and fairer system, rolling six benefits into one to replace the old system with a single monthly payment.
Under Labour the welfare system punished work – people could lose over £9 of every £10 extra they earned. The benefit system was so complicated that for some people, there was virtually no financial incentive to work. That has changed with Universal Credit – gone are the cliff edges which dis-incentivised taking on extra hours. We are building a welfare system that makes sure work always pays, provides a safety net to those who need it, and one that is also fair to taxpayers.
At the Conservative conference we announced a partnership with Citizens Advice to deliver Universal Support, which offers digital skills support and budgeting support for vulnerable people moving onto Universal Credit.
Citizens Advice, a charity that understands the needs of the most vulnerable in society, will help us deliver Universal Support across the UK so that claimants have access to the help they need. Citizens Advice will provide direct support to claimants who need help to make a Universal Credit claim. This support will be tailored to different needs, including face-to-face help, telephony and online information. We want to ensure people seamlessly move to Universal Credit and receive the support they need, so that we can build a better life for all members of society.
By helping people to access Universal Credit without delay, we are providing them with the tools they need to succeed in life, whatever their background, as we build an economy that works for everyone.