I beg to move,
That this House
has considered universal credit and debt.
Universal credit affects a huge proportion of our population already. As of April this year, 2 million people were on universal credit, and in the last three months more than 200,000 extra households each month have started a claim. By the time it is fully rolled out, around 7 million households, comprising around 15 million people, will be on universal credit—almost one quarter of the population and 28% of people under pension age—and around 38% of our children will be growing up in households on universal credit. It will affect a whole generation.
The impact of universal credit is felt not only at an individual, but at a societal level, so it is incredibly important that we get it right. That is why I set up the all-party parliamentary group on universal credit, to collect evidence and make recommendations. I thank all those parliamentarians here today on both sides of the House who have contributed to that very productive group, alongside our colleagues in the Lords, charities and researchers. I must especially mention Holly in my office, who has been running it as a labour of love.
Most of all, I thank the individuals who are claiming universal credit, particularly all those who responded to the social media outreach that I and Parliament have done for this debate, telling us about their often very personal experiences. The amount of money we have affects not just our bank balance, but our ability to look after both our physical health, in terms of affording housing and enough to eat, medication and travel to health appointments, and our mental health, particularly when we get into debt.