Wirral MP and Shadow Minister for Employment, Margaret Greenwood, has called on the government to pause the roll out of the full service of Universal Credit which is due to be introduced in Wirral next month, to fix the flaws in its design.
Margaret Greenwood MP made the closing speech for the Opposition in the debate for which was called by Labour to highlight deep concern over the way that Universal Credit is operating. You can find what she said in full at http://bit.ly/2yTQN6t
The government was defeated by 299 votes to 0 after MPs on the government side were told by their Whips to abstain in order to try and prevent a formal vote from being taken.
Local councils and a long list of organisations including Citizens Advice, the Child Poverty Action Group, Gingerbread, Women’s Aid and the Residential Landlords Associations have also called for the roll out of Universal Credit to be paused and for the government to fix the flaws in its design and the way that it is working.
Margaret Greenwood MP commented after the debate:
“I would urge the government to listen to the deep concern expressed by MPs on all sides in the debate and pause the roll out of the full service of Universal Credit so that the flaws in its design and delivery can be fixed.
“The 6 week wait at the start of a Universal Credit claim, which can often be much longer, is causing people to get into debt and arrears leaving them at risk of eviction.
“Universal Credit is meant to mirror the world of work, but the 6 week wait clearly doesn’t, especially where someone is used to being paid monthly or even weekly.
“Universal Credit was supposed to ensure that people are always better off in work, but government cuts to the amount that people can earn before their Universal Credit is reduced once they start working have undermined that original aim.
“Universal Credit was also meant to be simpler, but people’s social security entitlement has become a postcode lottery depending on whether they are claiming Tax Credits or Universal Credit.
“The list of flaws in the design of Universal Credit is a long one.
“Paying help with housing costs in Universal Credit to the tenant rather than the landlord can present problems for more vulnerable tenants to manage.
“Paying Universal Credit to only one person in the household also makes it more difficult for victims of domestic abuse to leave an abusive relationship.
“Claims under the Universal Credit full service due to be introduced in Wirral next month have to be made and managed online, but that ignores the needs of people who are either not confident using IT or who don’t have easy access to it.
“It is welcome that the government has agreed to make calls to the DWP phone line for Universal Credit free, but the phone lines are still overloaded with calls from people trying to resolve problems with their claims.
“I am very concerned that major problems seen elsewhere with the full service could be repeated in Wirral when it is introduced here in November.
“The Speaker urged the government to set out in Parliament how it is going to respond to the vote and the clear concern over the way Universal Credit is working. It should listen, pause and fix it.”