The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) could be about to come unstuck. Because Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has now got involved with the ongoing Universal Credit scandal. And in one motion, it could bring the benefit to its knees.
The DWP vs Corbyn?
Corbyn has tabled an Opposition Day debate on Universal Credit. While the benefit has often been debated in parliament, this time it’s different. Because if parliament passes Labour’s motion, it will be binding.
The text of Labour’s motion, as seen by The Canary, reads:
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to give directions that the following papers be laid before Parliament: any briefing papers or analysis provided to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions since 8 January 2017 on the impact of the roll-out of Universal Credit on recipients’ and household income and on benefits debts.
Labour is forcing this after work and pensions secretary Esther McVey had to admit that millions of households could be up to £200 a month worse off under the benefit. Its idea is to push McVey and the DWP into a corner; much like it did with the Brexit impact assessments. So Labour may now force the DWP to reveal exactly what’s been going on behind the scenes with Universal Credit. And it can’t happen too soon.
A perfect storm
The contentious new benefit replaces six old ones with a single payment. Currently, in what’s known as “live service”, Universal Credit has been rolled out in certain areas for new claims. Soon, the DWP will move everyone onto “full service“, including those on old benefits. This process was due to start in 2019. But on Tuesday 16 October, the DWP said that the rollout was being delayed. The BBC reported that the department was also making changes to the benefit.
As The Canary has documented, Universal Credit has long been mired in scandal. Most recently was a damning report by food-bank network the Trussell Trust. It directly pinned the blame for rising food-bank use onto Universal Credit. Another report showed rent arrears rocketing for people on it. And the DWP has even had to admit it’s already investigating claimant deaths under the benefit.
In short, Labour’s debate can’t come soon enough.
Could this be the beginning of the end for Universal Credit? Millions of people will certainly be hoping so.
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