Thank you for granting this urgent question, Mr Speaker. I commend Labour for securing it. It is important because at the weekend, reading any of the papers, it would have seemed that everything had changed in the minds of Ministers on universal credit, with the Work and Pension Secretary’s apparent U-turn. In actual fact, however, nothing had changed. I am sorry that the Secretary of State is not here to respond, given that the misleading headlines were in her name.
The Government were of course quite happy to ride that wave of publicity, but yesterday at DWP questions the scale of that so-called U-turn became clear. We now know that at present there are no plans to make any changes to universal credit, which is what everyone is really interested in.
Delaying the vote on the managed migration of people from legacy benefits to universal credit is a small acceptance from the Government that things may not be well with universal credit. We have six years of evidence and lobbying to show the Secretary of State that. She knows she cannot get away with kicking the can down the road. She knows that changes need to be made and that what is on the line is not just her credibility but the lives of recipients who desperately rely on that support. After all, we never know when it might be us relying on that safety net.
My question to the Minister is clear and unambiguous, and I hope he will be, too. Will he commit, with the Secretary of State, to putting pressure on the Chancellor to release the money to repair universal credit, starting with ending the two-child policy, stopping the benefits freeze and overhauling the punitive sanctions regime?