Universal Credit is not fit for purpose and is doing a disservice to the most vulnerable people in our society who need these benefits to be able to pay for essentials such as rent, food and other household bills. There has however been a huge success in the High Court in the battle against this shambolic benefits system that needs to either fundamentally change or be scrapped altogether.
First introduced under Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan-Smith back in 2011, Universal Credit has received considerable negative feedback from charities, research institutions and MPs, stating that it is not fit for purpose. Even though the government made changes in the 2017 Budget it has, according to Citizen’s Advice, “only made a dent in the problem rather than fixed it”. The negative impact of the changes to the benefits system have been considerable. Citizen’s Advice has noted that half of the Universal Credit claimants who came asking for help to manage the new benefit were at risk of being evicted owing to rent arrears and hardship because of the five week wait for their first payments.
Nevertheless, there has been a victory for three single mothers in the High Court who were losing out financially on Universal Credit, because of the arbitrary way that assessment periods clash with pay days. This is one of the starkest problems with Universal Credit as it means that sometimes the Universal Credit system thinks that they have been paid twice in one month. This victory has presented a important challenge to the Department of Work and Pensions to fix Universal Credit.
Amber Rudd has since responded somewhat positively by making some welcome changes to the Universal Credit system, most notably the change to the two-child limit, although this does not go far enough. It will now not apply retrospectively to families with older children making a new claim for Universal Credit. Whilst this is a positive result for all involved and I am happy to see this change there is still far more that needs to be done and I will continue to speak out for every Bolton family that needs Universal Credit and continue to call for radical changes to this broken system.
The benefit system in this country has been shattered by a Tory Government which seems to care little about the health and well-being of the working class people of this country. This is why other Labour MPs and I will strive to make changes to a Universal Credit system which currently leaves people having to make a stark choice of going without food and heating or paying their bills on time.