Universal Credit - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:55 pm on 5th November 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Andrews Baroness Andrews Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 5:55 pm, 5th November 2018

I appreciate what the noble Baroness has just said, because it is an extraordinarily complex system, and this is the biggest—and riskiest—change in social security for decades. She has said that people’s lives are different. When she refers to working conditions and benefits, surely she should remember what we have been saying about the need to take great care—universal credit is great in principle but very difficult to get right. A redesign should not be beyond the Government’s confidence.

I will repeat one question that was raised by both my noble friend on our Front Bench and by the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood. If the Government want, as they must, to simplify whatever they can, surely they should have a better answer than the one they have given about why they do not segment certain categories of people that cannot be treated universally. It would be relatively simple to do. Apparently the department has said that it cannot be done. That is not a good enough reason when the noble Baroness is struggling to explain what will happen. There is a risk of mistakes that will bear down on the very poorest with disastrous results. This is not scaremongering, and I resent it being described so: these are very serious challenges for the very poorest in our society.