Universal Credit - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:15 pm on 9th March 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Hollis of Heigham Baroness Hollis of Heigham Labour 11:15 pm, 9th March 2017

My Lords, I am sure that all of us in this House want universal credit to work, but it is not. There have been pilot schemes showing how people are being plunged into debt through no fault of their own. There are three simple administrative changes, as my noble friend on the Front Bench mentioned, that would transform the easy delivery of UC and prevent people spiralling into deep debt from which many can never recover. The first is to get rid of the seven-day waiting period; the second is to pay people fortnightly as well as monthly in advance, if they so wish; and the third is to pay housing benefit, if tenants so wish, direct to the landlord. Those three things together would transform the ability of people who are not particularly sophisticated about the benefit system—why should they be—and give them the opportunity to get money that will help them back into the labour market, as we all want, and not have a lifetime of debt hanging over them.