Set Up To Fail report image cover

Nikki Bond, Senior Research Officer, Money and Mental Health

Set up to fail

Making it easier to get help with Universal Credit

This report highlights the difficulties that those of us with mental health problems might experience when trying to get help to manage our Universal Credit (UC) account online. The report highlights:

  • Many people with mental health problems rely on support from friends and family to help them manage their benefits — from filling in complex forms, to dealing with Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) correspondence and challenging decisions about their benefits. 
  • But people are struggling to get this support with Universal Credit, because of flaws in the design of the Universal Credit system. To nominate someone else to help them, people have to navigate similarly difficult and unclear processes to those that they were trying to get help with in the first place
  • Without support, people are at substantially higher risk of being sanctioned by the DWP, and some people are being cut off from Universal Credit altogether.

Key recommendations

We’re calling on the government to make it easier for people with mental health problems to get help with managing their Universal Credit, by making changes including:

  • Providing people with clearer advice on what information they need to share with the DWP to get support from a loved one, and the correct process for doing so through the Universal Credit website.
  • Making this online process much more accessible and user-friendly, by adding prompts and drop down menus to guide people 
  • Giving people more flexible options to share information about their Universal Credit account with loved ones – for example, the option to give a friend or relative view-only access to your Universal Credit account, or to allow loved ones to get notifications about your account.

Sign our petition calling on government to fix the problems with the Universal Credit system which stop people getting help from loved ones.

This report was kindly sponsored by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales.