A number of people claiming Universal Credit have been told to apply for provisional driving licences as a form of ID with the costs being taken from their benefits, an MP has claimed.
Liverpool Walton MP, Dan Carden, called on the Department of Work and Pensions to postpone the roll-out of Universal Credit in his constituency until after Christmas and highlighted the driving licence issue as one of many administrative problems with the new system.
In a letter to the secretary of state Amber Rudd MP, he said: “We have families experiencing poverty on an unprecedented scale and now facing further avoidable hardship in the run up to Christmas.
“I have now been informed that job centres across Liverpool are advancing payments to my constituents to obtain provisional driving licences for the purposes of identification and then deducting the cost from their benefits.
“Constituents are also having to pay for postal orders, passport photographs and postage, just to obtain provisional licences.”
He explained that the DVLA says there is a five-week wait for provisional licences, and highlighted the delays before the first proper payments are made when someone is transferred on to Universal Credit.
The controversial new single benefit is designed to simplify the system and is being rolled out in many parts of Liverpool this week.
Mr Carden added: “Continuing with this roll-out will leave many of the most vulnerable families in Liverpool Walton destitute by Christmas and I am therefore asking you to intervene as a matter of urgency.”
In response to the letter a DWP spokeswoman told Sky News: “Having ID is not a requirement for those making a Universal Credit claim but it does make the process easier.
“If customers don’t have any ID we can reimburse the cost if they choose to apply for a passport, driving licence or long birth certificates.”
The department spokeswoman was unable to confirm if job centres had told people the costs of a provisional licence would be deducted from future benefits payments but said people should not be out of pocket.
The DWP has also vowed to improve the support available to Universal Credit claimants.