Everyone’s a loser?
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was responding to a new report from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and Institute for Public Policy Research. The study – The Austerity Generation: the impact of a decade of cuts on family incomes and child poverty – claims that one million children will have been put into poverty by 2020 if Universal Credit is fully rolled out. The report also found that, due to Universal Credit:
- Working families will lose £420 a year.
- A single working mother with two children would lose £2,336 a year.
- Couples would lose on average £250 a year.
- Families with three children would lose £2,540 a year; those with four or more would lose £5,000.
- 1,000,000 children will be living in poverty and 900,000 in severe poverty by the end of the decade.
But responding to the report in The Guardian, the DWP said:
We’re committed to supporting families and there are now 200,000 fewer children living in poverty than in 2010. This report assumes that people won’t take any steps to improve their lives, which we know is untrue. Unlike the old system universal credit rewards those working more hours. Evidence shows that claimants look to take on more hours than they did under jobseeker’s allowance, and for the first time they get personalised support to help them progress in work.
There are numerous issues with the DWP statement:
- Its claim about the reduction in child poverty is due to it changing its own method of measuring this.
- The CPAG report disputes the DWP claim about rewarding those who work more hours. It found that a lone parent working full time on the National Living Wage would have to work 41 extra days a year to make up the losses under Universal Credit.
- Its claim about “personalised support” has been criticised as “punishing the working poor” due to the new sanctions regime for those already in work.
Universal Credit: a “colossal failure”
CPAG Chief Executive Alison Garnham said:
The promise of increased rewards from work… under the new Universal Credit benefit has been broken… If the government’s flagship anti-poverty measure ends up rolling out poverty then it’s hard not to see that as a colossal failure of public policy.
Given that the countless stories of people being thrown into poverty by Universal Credit chime with the study, it’s hard not to agree with her. And the government’s flagship welfare reform hasn’t even fully begun yet.
– Write to your MP, asking them to support scrapping Universal Credit.
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