Labour announces proposals to scrap Universal Credit

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01 Oct 2019
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced that a Labour government would scrap Universal Credit and replace it with a social security system that focuses on “alleviating and ending poverty, not driving people into it”.

The move comes after a year-long review into the social security system which was led by Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood in her capacity as co-convenor of Labour’s Work, Pensions and Equality Policy Commission.

Margaret Greenwood, who is also Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has repeatedly held the government to account in Parliament on the roll-out of Universal Credit and has long drawn attention to the link between the system and increased food bank usage and the rise in poverty levels across the UK.

In government, Labour will immediately end the worst aspects of Universal Credit; to do this it would:

•           Reduce the five-week wait for first payment
•           End the benefit cap
•           Scrap the two-child limit
•           Suspend sanctions and the claimant agreement
•           End the “digital only” approach and recruit 5,000 new social security advisers

Labour would also make split payments and payments direct to landlords the default.

The latest figures from the House of Commons Library show that in Wirral West, in August 2019, there were 1,942 Universal Credit claimants, while data from Wirral Foodbank shows that, in 2018, 983 foodbank vouchers were issued in Wirral West wards – an increase of 381 compared to the previous year.

Margaret Greenwood MP said:

“Universal Credit was meant to lift people out of poverty, simplify the social security system and smooth the transition into work.

“Instead it is failing those in need, pushing many into debt and rent arrears and forcing them to rely on food banks to survive.

“The two-child limit and the benefit cap are driving up child poverty, and the sanctions regime is punishing people instead of supporting them.

“Labour will scrap Universal Credit, put an end to the benefit cap and create a social security system that, just like our NHS, treats people with dignity and respect and is there for any one of us in our time of need.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said:

“Universal Credit has been an unmitigated disaster. As well as being behind schedule and over budget, it is inhumane and cruel, driving people into poverty and hardship.

“The Tories told us that Universal Credit would make work pay, but we have seen the opposite. More and more people who are falling into poverty have jobs, and more and more children who are growing up in poverty are living in working families.

“Labour will introduce a new system based on the principles of dignity and respect and it will alleviate and end poverty, not drive people into it.”