Work and Pensions Committee

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:55 pm on 8th February 2018.

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Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee 1:55 pm, 8th February 2018

I hope I will also leave the House silenced by my report, and I hope to do so in record speed.

The House passed a motion on 5 December 2017 agreeing that the Select Committee on Work and Pensions should review the five project assessment reviews on universal credit. The Government went beyond that and gave us other papers. All the papers were almost unreadable, and the fact that they are now turned from pigs’ ears into a silk purse owes everything to our Clerk, Adam Mellows-Facer. When Members read the report, they will understand precisely our debt to him.

Mr Speaker, I request your help on two fronts. First, this huge project—huge in Government finance and huge in what it might do to our constituents—is based on no business case at all. I am therefore pleased to see my friend John Glen, who is now the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, sitting on the Treasury Bench. I ask through you, Mr Speaker, that he does not approve further development of universal credit until the Treasury has received the business case from his colleague the Minister for Employment, Alok Sharma.

Secondly, the project assessment reviews talk about the industrialisation of claims. This is the roll-out of a benefit that is, to put it at its kindest, hit and miss. The problems that our constituents could face are beyond imagination, and the cost to taxpayers will be enormous. Mr Speaker, at another time, might I seek your help in getting time to allow many more Members of the House of Commons to comment on how universal credit is affecting, or not affecting, their constituents?

I end by thanking you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to present the Select Committee’s report to the House.