Thank you for contacting me recently about Universal Credit (UC).
As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m as concerned about the roll-out and its consequences as you are and I have been raising those concerns in Parliament constantly over the last three years as well as voting against the introduction of a system that will punish those who can’t work and those who are on low hours.
The Prime Minister has said that austerity is over but the cuts to Universal Credit will total nearly £4bn a year by 2020.
UC is a vehicle for cuts and is causing severe hardship for many people as it is rolled out. It was allegedly designed to lift people out of poverty but instead is leaving people in debt, rent arrears or forced to turn to food banks to survive.
Claimants are still experiencing hardship as a result of delays to initial payments and the DWP’s own survey of claimants published in June showed that 40% of claimants were still experiencing financial difficulties even nine months in to their claim. Many claimants struggle to make and manage their claim online as they are required to under UC and the funding for support provided by DWP is inadequate.
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is reported to have told Cabinet colleagues that many families could lose as much as £2,400 a year as a result of transferring to claim UC. A wide range of organisations, including Citizens Advice, the Child Poverty Action Group, over 80 disability organisations and two former Prime Ministers have warned that the government’s plans risk thousands of people losing support either temporarily or falling out of the system altogether. I spoke in an Urgent Question this week following rumours that the roll out of UC has been delayed again, and asked how this would affect many of my constituents; the response I received from the Minister was extremely disappointing. You can read about my question here.
Despite all the problems with the roll out the government is planning to start a new phase known as “managed migration” with the transfer of almost three million people claiming legacy benefits such as Tax Credits and ESA starting in January.
Yesterday in Parliament I voted to try to force the Government to release all their internal assessments of what the cut to individual’s income would amount to. Though Labour MPs didn’t win the vote, we will carry on fighting to force the Government to come clean.
Universal Credit is not working in its current form and Labour is absolutely clear, the government must stop the roll of out immediately. On 27th October we’ll be holding a rally in town to say just that, if you want to join us, details are here https://www.facebook.com/events/2304871886463560/