Margaret Greenwood MP calls for government to publish independent reports on Universal Credit to show how key decisions were taken

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06 Dec 2017
Margaret Greenwood MP, Shadow Minister for Employment, made the closing speech for the Opposition in a debate called by Labour to force the government to publish independent reports that assess the progress of Universal Credit.

The Information Commissioner has called on the government to make the reports public, but the government has been resisting that and was intending to appeal against the Information Commissioner’s decision.

Margaret Greenwood MP said:

“Universal Credit was originally piloted in the North West and the full service was introduced in Wirral last month.

“These reports could shed light on some of the key decisions that have led to the problems currently being experienced by claimants with Universal Credit, such as the long wait for an initial payment, the requirement that claims be made and managed online and the difficulties parents have experienced in securing childcare payments.

“Labour’s motion has forced the government to agree to hand over the reports to the Work and Pensions Select Committee, but the government has still not agreed to make them public.

“The government was prepared to spend considerable sums of money on appealing against the Information Commissioner’s decision, but still won’t back down on cuts to work allowances in Universal Credit at a time when 8 million people in poverty live in families where at least one person is in work.

“The changes to Universal Credit announced by the government may make it easier for claimants to get advanced payments, but they still fail to fully address the need for them in the first place.

“Charities like Citizens Advice, the Child Poverty Action Group or Gingerbread have all published reports recently highlighting the problems that Universal Credit is producing.

“Universal Credit was meant to tackle poverty and ensure that work always pays. The cuts that the government has made to it create the danger that people will be pushed into poverty instead.

“The government should be focusing on sorting out these problems, not blocking publication of reports on Universal Credit.”

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported this week that more than 14 million people live in poverty in the UK. That is 20% of the population and includes 8 million working-age adults, 4 million children and 1.9 million pensioners.

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