The universal credit is a sound idea. Any reform that improves incentives to work and humanises the benefits system is welcome. However, it faces several challenges in its ambition to 'make work pay' and reduce worklessness.

Those challenges include:

- the Universal Credit cannot address the real costs of work

- it provides no solution to the most urgent challenge - a lack of jobs

- the promise to make work pay is undermined by benefit cuts

- Compulsory unpaid work: right principle, wrong reform.