Amber Rudd has promised fellow single mums she will make Universal Credit work better for them as part of her wider root-and-branch review of the controversial welfare system.
The new work and pensions secretary, who brought up her two children as a single mother, told Sky News that she was going to specifically examine the impact of Universal Credit on women and single mums, amid concerns the new welfare scheme was making hundreds of thousands of single parents poorer.
In her first TV interview since being appointed to her new post last week, Ms Rudd told Sky News that while Universal Credit was a "force for good", there were also some "real problems" with it that needed to be addressed.
Ms Rudd, speaking on a visit to a job centre in south London, promised more help for women – and "particularly single mothers" – who have been harder hit than men by the rollout of Universal Credit.
She told Sky News: "I'm going to specifically look at how Universal Credit impacts women… I'm going to make sure that if we need to make changes to support them then we will.
"I had a conversation with the chief secretary [to the Treasury] this morning who also is also concerned about making sure that as a government we support women and I'm going to make sure that that Universal Credit actually does that."
Recent research by the Resolution Foundation think tank found Universal Credit was leaving women – and particularly single mums – thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Women in abusive relationships are also at increased risk as the scheme could allow their controlling partners to cut off access to cash, making them financially dependent.
Ms Rudd said she wanted to address this in the domestic violence bill to make sure "women are protected" and have access to split payments in such situations.
The new work and pensions secretary also said she was going to review the five-week wait time for new claimants to receive their benefits; payment systems for the housing element of universal credit; access to cash and the repayment of upfront loans.
She said: "We need to give [claimants] more confidence in the fact that they can access cash immediately.
"You know people are nervous about moving from legacy benefits to Universal Credit because they cannot afford quite often to be without cash for a few days, a week, two weeks, three weeks.
"I have to make sure that they can have confidence in access in earlier."
Ms Rudd also said she would would seek parliamentary backing to rollout the controversial welfare system, despite a damning report released this week by MPs on the work and pensions select committee demanding that any vote be delayed until the system has been improved.
She said: "We are pressing ahead with [this vote].
"Let me tell you what that vote would also incorporate – additional money for people with severe disabilities. It will also give additional earning power for people on Universal Credit, the amount of money that was put into Universal Credit from the last budget can only be accessed if we lay these regulations.
"People care about accessing that extra money. We need to make sure we deliver on that for them. I don't take anything for granted but I hope my colleagues will see how important this is."
Ms Rudd's shopping list for further reform comes on the heels of two big concessions made by Chancellor Philip Hammond in last month's budget: he delayed the full rollout of the scheme by another nine months to the end of 2023, and also injected a further £1.7bn into "work allowances" to help boost the income for lower-paid workers.
Universal Credit, which roles six "legacy" benefits into one single payment, is the biggest reform in the welfare system in a generation.
But it has proved controversial, with many claimants suffering destitution and hardship as they are shifted from the old system to the new one.
The scheme is now running at least five years behind schedule and has been the focus of a series of rebellions in parliament as MPs demand improvements to the system.
On Brexit, Ms Rudd told Sky News that it was "imperative" that parliament back the prime minister's withdrawal agreement with the EU.
She said: "We have one change of getting it through in December and its really incumbent on colleagues to support it in order to deliver the certainty that everybody wants.
"If we look here in the job centre, people are reliant on a strong economy. We need that strong economy. We'll only get that if we get Brexit though in the form which the prime minister delivers."
Asked whether she would ever want to be the PM, Ms Rudd said: "No, what I want to do is support the PM.
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"I think she's done an extraordinary job over the past few weeks and I hope she will continue to do so and I hope my colleagues who have been pushing in these letters realise they've made a mistake. We need to get behind her."
However, the former home secretary dodged a question on whether she would rule herself out from running, and said: "What I don't rule out is backing the prime minister until we get this deal through – and further."