An SNP MP blasts the DWP’s flagship policy for playing into the hands of domestic abusers

The DWP logo and storm clouds
Support us and go ad-free

SNP MP Philippa Whitford slammed the DWP’s flagship policy – Universal Credit – for playing into the hands of domestic abusers.

“Urgent reform”

As Welfare Weekly reported, Whitford issued a damning statement about Universal Credit ahead of a House of Commons event organised by women’s domestic abuse organisations. She said:

The UK government must finally listen to the overwhelming evidence from women’s groups, who are clear that Universal Credit needs urgent reform to tackle the increased risks of domestic abuse.

Financial Abuse affects one in five women and the current system, of paying Universal Credit into one bank account per household, makes it easier for perpetrators of domestic abuse to exert complete financial control – leaving women isolated; with no money to socialise with friends and family or to leave an abusive relationship.

Financial abuse

Whitford issued her statement in response to a report from campaign groups the Women’s Budget Group, End Violence Against Women and Surviving Economic Abuse. The report describes [pdf, p1] how Universal Credit “requires couples to nominate a single bank account”. It states [pdf, p1] that the government’s rationale for this decision is that payments to one bank account:

can help couples see clearly the effect of their decisions about work on total household income.

But the report raised [pdf, p1] concerns that single payments:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

could result in less equal couple relationships, and risks further financial abuse.

It specifically focuses [pdf, p2] on the:

removal of specially labelled and separately paid tax credits for children.

It argues [pdf, p2] that this reform infringes on a woman’s “bargaining power”.

“Psychological stranglehold”

These concerns are born out by personal stories. In August 2018, a survivor of financial abuse told the BBC that:

her ex-partner had exploited the child benefit system, filing claims while she was still in hospital after giving birth, and denying her access to funds.

She concluded that Universal Credit increased the risk of women being put in a “psychological stranglehold”. This provides credence to the director of Women’s Budget Group Mary-Ann Stephenson’s claim that single payments are:

undermining women’s economic independence and their ability to leave abusive relationships.

Financial independence

Universal Credit claimants can request split payments but the Work and Pensions Committee heard that Jobcentres only offer these in “very exceptional circumstances”. Additionally, claimants often have to disclose [pdf, p2] abuse to receive split payments, which many domestic abuse survivors are “reluctant to do”.

Therefore, Whitford has called on the government to stop ignoring the issue and instead:

introduce separate payments, as the default, to ensure that women have financial independence.

It’s really not too much to ask.

Get Involved!

Read Welfare Weekly‘s excellent reporting on welfare issues.

Support the Women’s Budget Group.

Featured image via cjohnson7 – Wikimedia and UK government – Wikimedia.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed