I’ve joined trade union Usdaw in criticising the government’s failure to reform Universal Credit in Wednesday’s Budget.
Usdaw had called on the Chancellor to finally scrap both the two-child limit and the five-week wait period within the Universal Credit system. These measures were jointly called for by academics, MPs, unions, and charities in a letter to the Government organised by the Making Ends Meet campaign.
Universal Credit was rolled out in Sheffield at the end of 2018. It replaced Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits, Employment and Support Allowance, and Income Support. Across the UK, 46% of families lose money from the switch from legacy benefits to Universal Credit.
One of the most high-profile issues faced by Universal Credit claimants is the five-week wait for the first payment, while the two-child limit bars benefits for third and subsequent children born after 2017. This two-child limit has hit more than 592,000 kids in 157,000 families since it was implemented in 2017.
I’ve seen first-hand the devastating effects of Universal Credit as payment delays and sanctions have pushed local people into debt, destitution and even homelessness. Volunteers at local foodbanks have told me that the rollout of Universal Credit in our city led to a sudden and dramatic increase in demand.
The two-child limit and five-week wait period have been particularly damaging and have driven families in Sheffield and across the country into poverty. The Budget was an opportunity to deal with some of the major problems with Universal Credit but the government has failed to act and it’s ordinary families that will suffer as a result.
I have consistently opposed Universal Credit and will continue to do so. If you need help with Universal Credit or any other benefit, you can find useful advice here and contact my office for further support.