*The Welfare Reform Act puts into law one of the government’s flagship bills, which ministers claim marks the biggest overhaul of the benefits system since the 1940s.

* This briefing explains the key components of the Act, including the merging of several benefits into Universal Credit, significant changes to Housing Benefit and Employment Support Allowance, a transformation of disability benefits, and new responsibilities for local authorities.

* The briefing’s comment section considers the many challenges the Act presents to local authorities, as well as highlighting some of the concerns that were raised during the bill’s troubled passage into law – aspects of it were defeated by the Lords on seven occasions.

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