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Universal Credit (Liverpool)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:19 am on 11th September 2018.

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Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 11:19 am, 11th September 2018

I cannot comment on the individual case, but it is unquestionably the case that the old system had inherent flaws and, as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton very fairly said in his speech, it was right for it to be reformed at that particular time. We may have a debate and a discussion about the quality of the system thereafter, but the reform of the old system was unquestionably the right thing.

Under UC, claimants are better off when they move into work and better off when they progress in work; the payment is gradually reduced as earnings increase, so claimants will not lose all their benefits at once if they are on a low income. There is no 16-hour ceiling, no 16-hour floor and no risk to people’s benefit as they move into work. It also means that the more people work, the more money they get in their pocket. We believe that universal credit lies at the heart of our reforms to transform the welfare system, because it supports those who can work and cares for those who cannot.

The UC full service is available in approximately 63% of Jobcentres in Liverpool, with those remaining to be rolled out by December, as the hon. Gentleman outlined. I would urge all hon. Members to visit their local Jobcentres and to speak to the staff in charge of the system, the work coaches and the claimants who are attending. I myself have visited a number of Jobcentres and sat in on randomly selected interviews with dedicated work coaches. I held a jobs fair last Friday in Hexham with my Jobcentre Plus, and I am going to another Jobcentre this week.