Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:46 pm on 17th October 2018.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean 1:46 pm, 17th October 2018

I agree with my hon. Friend that if the Chancellor is able to find some money—I always think it is very good to not try to write the Chancellor’s Budget in advance—the work allowances are an area to prioritise. I know that that is what my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green thinks, too. I am sure the Chancellor will have heard the call in the letter that he wrote and in the debate today from my hon. Friend. Getting rid of the hours caps is really important. It means that jobs can be better focused on individuals and that we give people the opportunity to get into work, progress in work, and be able to earn for their families.

The final point I want to make in the one-and-a-half minutes I have left—I will not take any more interventions, because it takes time away from other Members—is on the experience of constituents. I still get constituents writing to me about universal credit—of course I do. But in the past year, since we rolled out universal credit in my constituency, I get about half the number I once did. I now get about half the number of problems that I used to get with the legacy benefit system.

I also want to take this opportunity—I hope the Secretary of State can take this back to the Department—to say that of course when one is rolling out a benefit system to millions of people there will be errors, but the experience of my constituency staff is that when we raise those issues with the Department it looks at them properly and we get considered, detailed responses to solve them for my constituents. The members of staff in the Department are very focused on doing their best for our constituents. I certainly had the experience—I have heard the Minister of State say this as well—from when I was in the Department of frontline staff saying that the introduction of universal credit was the first time they feel they could do what they came to work at the Department for, which is to help constituents get into work, earn more money and be able to provide for their families. That is a fantastic thing and I urge the Secretary of State to continue to roll-out the benefit in a careful way.