The first trial of Universal Credit, the government's simplified benefits system, begins from 29 April in parts of Cheshire and greater Manchester. Initially a very small number of households in a limited area of the country will be affected, but further areas will be included in the pilot over the summer.

From now through to October, when the system will begin to be rolled-out across the country, there is the chance to make any changes to the new system that may be necessary. We are concerned that the opportunity for testing it on families with children is being missed, since the pilots will only target out-of-work adults without children. (Read our statement and briefing document on the trial.)

For many, Universal Credit will offer a simplified welfare system, which will help to make work pay. However, for others, including some of the most disadvantaged children and families, changes to both entitlement and administration, could result in significant problems.

Supporting families through Universal Credit

Once fully implemented by 2017, nearly 7 million - or around half of all children in the UK - will be in families receiving Universal Credit. The support they receive will help these families give their children a good childhood.

But with major changes, there come risks, and it is crucial that the new system works to support these children and their families.

Our analysis recommends a number of changes both to entitlement and to the way in which Universal Credit is administered in order to make work pay and to make sure that children and families get the support they need.

On 29 April we held a question-and-answer session on Twitter about the effects of Universal Credit. You can read the result on our blog.

Our work around Universal Credit

For the last two years we have worked to present recommendations to make sure Universal Credit benefits children and families. We have produced reports, briefing documents and are running a campaign that address aspects of Universal Credit.

These include:

Other issues related to welfare reform

We have also advocated for children and families in other areas concerning welfare benefits, including: