Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:08 pm on 17th October 2018.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey 2:08 pm, 17th October 2018

Universal credit is causing undeniable and massive hardship in my constituency. I see it in my advice surgery, and we see it in the 34% increase in food bank usage in the Wirral since the full roll-out of universal credit. When we talked to the Trussell Trust, which provides the 15 food banks in the Wirral, it said that half of all the usage of food banks in the area is a direct result of the problems with universal credit.

The DWP is under huge pressure to deliver a huge change programme, which was badly designed to begin with and which the previous Chancellor took huge amounts of money out of—there were £4 billion-worth of cuts. It is trying to deliver a change programme and save vast amounts of public money at the same time, while visiting the effects of this disaster on some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our community.

It does not take long to realise that this benefit is in trouble when we see two former Prime Ministers, Gordon Brown and Sir John Major, both giving very stark warnings about it. Gordon Brown has predicted civil unrest if something is not done, because the benefit is too complex and causing huge suffering. As we have heard from my hon. Friend Shabana Mahmood, people already under financial pressure are being expected to absorb the loss of £2,400 a year, or £200 each month. John Major, the ex-Conservative Prime Minister, has said that

“that degree of loss…is not something the majority of the British population would think of as fair, and if people think you have removed yourself from fairness then you are in deep political trouble.”

The Government are in deep political trouble with the roll-out of this benefit, and they know it. If they have nothing to hide, and if we are to believe the scarcely credible comments from Conservative Members, who seem to think that absolutely nothing is going wrong, they should vote to allow these papers, which the motion seeks to have published, into the public domain so that we can see the advice that they have been given, including the costs and benefits of the roll-out, and the analysis that seems to make the Conservative party so complacent.