The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) controversial benefit Universal Credit looks set to be hotly debated at the Labour Party conference. The Canary has exclusively learned that at least eight motions about the benefit have been tabled for debate. But as one prominent member said, the party needs to adopt a ‘stop and scrap’ position immediately.
The DWP and Labour: a showdown?
As The Canary has documented, Universal Credit is the DWP’s flagship policy, rolling six previous benefits into one. It’s been dogged by controversy and failings, leading for calls for it to be scrapped. Both Unite the Union and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have made ‘stop and scrap’ their official stance.
But so far, Labour’s position has remained one of ‘pause and fix’. This includes public statements from the likes of Sadiq Khan. But Labour’s position is contrary not only to Unite’s and the TUC’s but also to some campaign groups’. For example, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) has repeatedly warned of the dangers of Universal Credit, as has BENEFITS NEWS.
On Twitter, people have been applying pressure on Labour over its stance:
— Anita Bellows (@AnitaBellows12) September 19, 2018
Labour must take the initiative and vote to #ScrapUniversalCredit at their upcoming Party Conference.@MGreenwoodWW @Debbie_abrahams please push to end the suffering as you already do. But no "pause and fix."
Stop it and scrap it.
— Alex Tiffin (@RespectIsVital) September 19, 2018
A policy to #ScrapUniversalCredit will be a vote winner for Labour. We're done with the 'follow the Tory' mentality based on lies and corruption. Labour can tell the truth about austerity and we won't be a front for the 1%. https://t.co/SZfyVflz63
— SheffieldUncut (@SheffieldUncut1) September 19, 2018
Now The Canary has learned that Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and accredited groups have submitted at least eight Contemporary Motions on Universal Credit to the party’s Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC). On Sunday 23 September delegates will discuss them. Then, some may go forward for people to debate onto the conference floor. At least two of these motions call on the Labour Party to scrap Universal Credit. So, it’s possible this position could end up as party policy.
And for one member, this is crucial.
Universal Credit: already broken
Disabled activist and Labour member Paula Peters told The Canary:
Universal Credit is about the abolition of the welfare state; ripping the safety net away; ramping up homelessness, poverty and destitution, and causing maximum distress and harm to the claimant. The gig economy is imploding along with zero hours contracts. Universal Credit isn’t making work pay when it takes 63p out of every £1 you earn. It’s trapping you in poverty; designed to set you up to fail.
As a Labour member and disability activist I feel strongly that Labour needs to shift position. You cannot fix something that’s already broken. It needs to be stopped and scrapped.
There is every chance that at least one of the Universal Credit motions could make it to the conference floor. So, to every member who thinks Labour should scrap Universal Credit: contact your local conference delegates and get the message across. Literally millions of people could be relying on it.