Well over 9,000 individual visits were made to the Money Manager tool for Universal Credit (UC) claimants in the first three months of 2019.
Over the same January-March period this year, the Money and Pension Service money guidance contact centre was contacted around 1,100 times regarding Universal Credit.
Confirmation comes in figures released in the written answer to a Commons question.
Labour’s Steve McCabe had asked if the DWP would make an assessment of trends in the level of claimants making contact since February 2019 as a result of changes intended to ensure tenants in receipt of housing support can find PRS properties.
McCabe had previously asked what support was available to UC claimants who are able to afford accommodation in the private sector but are unable to find landlords who will rent to them.
Then, DWP minister Will Quince said work already underway had seen “meaningful change from key market players”, with the government awarding nearly £20m to councils through the PRS Access Fund to boost access and sustain tenancies.
Replying to McCabe’s latest questions, DWP minister Alok Sharma said that, from January to March, around 9,300 individuals visited the Money Manager tool hosted on the Money Advice Service website.
Sharma also confirmed that figure of around 1,100 for the guidance contact centre.
But Sharma could not qualify what percentage of new claimants contact the Money and Pensions Service within three months of signing on to UC – as McCabe had asked – saying this information was “not centrally collected” by the DWP.
The Money and Pension Service (MaPS) replaced the three existing providers of government-sponsored financial guidance – the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise – which has brought together the provision of debt advice, money guidance and pension guidance for the first time.
DWP stands by the “streamlined” services offered as purportedly reducing confusion over contact for “free and impartial” guidance helping claimants with personal budgeting and money management.
Since February 2017, work coaches in job centres have signposted thousands of claimants to Money Manager. MaPS funds free-to-consumer debt advice in England through a network of providers, including StepChange, the Money Advice Trust and Citizens Advice.