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Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:36 pm on 17th October 2018.

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Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup Conservative, Erewash 3:36 pm, 17th October 2018

Yet again we are debating universal credit and yet again I feel as if we are in a parallel universe in this House. However, I am convinced that every single MP wants the very best for their constituents, which is why we all get passionate about this issue.

My constituency of Erewash has had full roll-out for some time now, and universal credit is working. Prior to universal credit being rolled out, much of my surgery time was taken up with sorting out tax credit issues. I am still sorting out some of these historical cases and it is a nightmare, but my surgeries have changed since full roll-out of universal credit. I am pleased to say that they are not full of universal credit cases. I am not going to deny that there are some, but the proportion of such cases in relation to other issues has completely changed compared with the situation before universal credit.

I pay tribute to the staff at my local jobcentres in Long Eaton and Ilkeston. It is because of their hard work and commitment to those who need their support that universal credit is working in Erewash. I am sure that the jobcentre staff and claimants alike would not want to return to the previous system, which was clunky and, more importantly, did not encourage people to return to work, as we have heard from quite a few Conservative Members this afternoon. My local jobcentre staff tell me that more people are getting into work and, more importantly, staying in work as a result of universal credit; they no longer have to sign on and sign off.

In the run-up to this debate, I have received numerous emails from constituents on the subject of universal credit, many of which are identical. Sadly, someone has misinformed them about many aspects of the system. One element of universal credit that has been adjusted since April is that of housing benefit. It is often the housing element that causes problems in Erewash. But now claimants already on housing benefit will continue to receive their award for the first two weeks of their universal credit claim. I thank the Government for making those changes. In addition, the Government have promised to make it easier for claimants to request that their housing element be paid directly to their landlord, so the Government are listening.

Universal credit is working in Erewash and, more importantly, more of my constituents are working too.