Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:56 pm on 17th October 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Margaret Greenwood Margaret Greenwood Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 12:56 pm, 17th October 2018

The hon. Gentleman is getting ahead of himself, because there is no evidence that the Government can demonstrate whether universal credit gets people into work.

The Government’s answer to the delays was to provide advances, but they have to be paid back as well as debts for utility bills, council tax or rent arrears that people will probably have built up while waiting. The maximum percentage that can be taken out of universal credit for repayments is 40%. How is someone already trying to manage on such low income supposed to cope when such a large slice of their support is taken away at the source? And yet—in the face of all of the evidence—the Government have insisted on pressing ahead and accelerating the roll-out of universal credit since May this year, at the same time as carrying out a rapid programme of closing one in 10 jobcentres. The Government plan to increase the workload of work coaches fourfold and that of case managers sixfold as the roll-out continues. Staff are under constant pressure and are switched back and forth between processing claims and answering phone calls about problems with them.

From next year things are set to get a whole lot worse, as the Government prepare to embark on the next phase of universal credit—so-called managed migration—which will require almost 3 million people claiming the benefits that universal credit is replacing, such as tax credits and employment and support allowance, to make a new claim for universal credit instead. As hon. Members are aware, there is nothing managed about it.