What needs to be done with Universal Credit?
By Joe Harker
Universal Credit is the new benefits system being introduced in the UK by the government. It aims to roll several different types of benefits into one payment, with the theory behind it being that people would always be better off in work. However, It has quickly become a hugely unpopular policy that will leave millions in poverty even worse off financially.
The Financial Times reports that Universal Credit desperately needs much more funding and to be put on hold so the government can listen to the concerns of the public. Food bank usage in places where the policy has already been implemented has risen by 52 per cent according to research by the Trussell Trust. Payments have been delayed and people are struggling to get by without their benefits.
Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, recently confirmed that some people will be worse off under the Universal Credit system. Despite this she also said she believed the policy was working "much better than the old system" that "kept people out of work". Her comments are a departure from the Downing Street line that nobody will lose money as a result of switching to Universal Credit.
The Guardian reports that single parents and the disabled will be among the hardest hit by Universal Credit as millions will receive on average £52 less each week in benefits.
Theresa May is facing a growing revolt over the policy with 27 Tory MPs signing up to a campaign urging her to increase funding to Universal Credit. The Daily Telegraph reports that they have written to chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond asking for £2 billion more to be added to the policy. That money may have to come from scrapping proposed cuts to income tax, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Writing in the New Statesman, Patrick Maguire believes that Universal Credit will be as much of a nightmare for the Tories as Brexit. He cites "no end of horror stories" in constituencies where the policy has been rolled out.
The policy is making the Tories look like they are punishing the poorest in society. Universal Credit is their policy, it is leaving millions of poor people with less money each month and food bank usage has risen sharply in areas where Universal Credit has already been introduced. Whatever their intentions they are putting lives at risk and making conditions worse for many.
The people affected by Universal Credit don't want it, the people implementing Universal Credit don't need it. The latter group would do well to listen to the concerns of the former.