Universal Credit will be rolled out in Ashfield this month and we are bracing ourselves for the fallout, writes Gloria De Piero MP.
The Tories’ disastrous policy has plunged people up and down the country into financial chaos and hardship, but still the Government insists on ploughing on with it.
Universal Credit is replacing a number of old benefits, including family tax credits, working tax credit, income-based jobseeker’s allowance and income-based employment and support allowance.
It is supposed to make the benefits system simpler and fairer, but even Government ministers admit that families will be worse off when on it – some by £200-plus a month.
The problems start with the claims process, which can only be done online and which causes instant access issues for some claimants.
Then there is the five-week wait for the first payment.
This wait means that claimants are facing financial pressure before even having a chance to see if the new benefit will work for them.
Rent arrears and an increase in food bank usage are just two of the recognised consequences of this wait.
In-work poverty is increasing and I am extremely concerned that child poverty will get worse in the coming months.
Despite this catalogue of failings, the Government is refusing to either halt or slow down the rollout.
The poorest and most vulnerable in our society are doing more, and suffering more, to help this country balance its books than the bankers who caused the recession in the first place.
Universal Credit was designed to lift people out of poverty and to make work pay but it does neither.
If the Government genuinely wanted work to be a route out of poverty it would adopt Labour’s policy of introducing a £10 National Living Wage.
This country needs a system that supports people in time of need, which allows them to afford to live and smooths the transition into work. Right now, only a Labour Government can provide that solution.