The Labour Party has indicated that it’s looking at scrapping the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) most hated benefit – Universal Credit.
Although the party hasn’t offically committed to scrapping it yet, it’s looking at discussing the proposal at conference. Any decision can’t come soon enough. Scrapping it is exactly what campaigners have been demanding happen for years.
Universal Credit combines six benefits into one and has caused misery for people. This list from Unite the Union sets out some of the problems with the benefit:
1. Unbearably long waits for claimants to receive money
2. People can only apply for Universal Credit online making it inaccessible for many
3. Not enough help for claimants when the system fails them
4. Rent paid directly to claimants instead of Landlords causing people to get into arrears and even to lose their homes
5. Letting agents are already refusing to rent to anyone claiming Universal Credit
6. Cruel sanctions for both in-work and out-of-work claimants
7. Payments only go to one named member of a household
8. Universal Credit takes 63p in every £1 people earn
9. Universal Credit leaves many working families much worse off than the old system
10. People in part-time work could be forced to give up work that suits their disability or family life in order to take up worse paid full-time work or risk sanctions.
According to the Trussell Trust, foodbanks have seen an average of a “52% increase in demand” for help where Universal Credit is well established:
On average, 12 months after roll-out, food banks see a 52% increase in demand, compared to 13% in areas with Universal Credit for 3 months or less.
So it’s perhaps unsurprising that a review from the Labour Party found the benefit “toxic”, needing “transformative change”. According to the Mirror, “party sources” are now saying that the benefit needs to go. One stated:
It is clear that Universal Credit is not working. We need a social security system that provides holistic support from cradle to grave.
Feelings on Universal Credit are running so high that a jobcentre in Merseyside was recently graffitied. As the Liverpool Echo reported, the message “Scrap UC” and “We will not submit” was emblazoned on the side of the office in Bootle.
The benefit is so toxic that people are forced to these measures to speak out about what’s happening. If the Labour Party is finally talking about scrapping the benefit, then it’s about time. And if it wants to go into the next general election from a position of strength, these are exactly the type of policies it needs to adopt.
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