An SNP MP has ripped into the DWP and Universal Credit

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Neil Gray, the SNP social justice spokesperson and MP for Airdrie and Shotts, has launched a scathing attack on the DWP and its flagship Universal Credit policy.

“Shambolic”

On 15 June, the National Audit Office (NAO) released a report which heavily criticised Universal Credit. The report concluded that the policy has failed in all its aims.

The NAO’s key findings include that Universal Credit has increased food bank use and rent arrears; and that “it has cost four times as much to run per person as predicted”.

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Responding to the report, Gray pulled no punches in his criticism of Universal Credit:

The Tory government cannot continue to brush aside the deep and damaging failings of their Universal Credit system – which is pushing families into poverty, hardship, and crisis.

Many families are being forced to rely on emergency aid and food banks just to get by as a result of the shambolic roll out of this policy.

The National Audit Office report exposes the damaging impact Universal Credit is having, and raises serious criticisms of the roll out.

“Tin-eared”

Gray also criticised the DWP’s continued lack of response to criticisms:

This report shows just how much of a mess the Universal Credit roll out is. The SNP has been warning about the issues with the payments system for six years – but the DWP are tin-eared – leaving people in desperate situations.

And he slammed its continued commitment to a policy that is clearly failing on multiple levels:

The DWP has pushed ahead with their shambolic roll-out despite all the warnings, and the total disregard shown for the hardship faced by claimants is nothing short of immoral and shameful.

Urgent question

Welfare Weekly reported that Gray:

has applied for an Urgent Question today (Monday), and called on the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions to come to parliament, and respond to the concerns raised in the National Audit Office report on ‘Rolling Out Universal Credit’.

But given work and pensions secretary Esther McVey’s record, Gray shouldn’t hold his breath. On 15 June, McVey gave a crucial written statement to parliament regarding the disability benefit Personal Independence Payment. But as The Canary reported, after she’d delivered the statement, “she then effectively ran off for the weekend”, avoiding debate.

The evidence speaks for itself

But even if McVey had stuck around for the debate, she wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on. When it comes to Universal Credit, the evidence speaks for itself. Highlights include:

  • 72% of claimants reporting either struggling financially or having “real financial difficulties”.
  • 83% of sanctions that are appealed being overturned.
  • Universal Credit contributing directly to the UK’s homelessness crisis.
  • The design of the policy, which can give an abusive partner extensive control of a household’s income.

Gray’s criticisms are completely justified. The DWP must come before parliament and defend the fact that it is continuing with a policy which is failing on so many levels. Otherwise, claimants will continue to bear the brunt of its arrogance.

Get Involved!

– Support DPAC and Black Triangle, campaigning for disabled people’s rights.

– Read The Canary‘s full analysis of Universal Credit.

Featured image via DPAC and UK government – Wikimedia 

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