Universal credit is pushing thousands into poverty - it should not be rolled out to the whole country without stopping the harm it will do and the misery it will cause
The introduction of Universal Credit has been highly controversial, says David Drew, Stroud’s MP. The idea of integrating most benefits is not wrong, but making it work properly is a huge undertaking - and to pretend it can be achieved without enormous cost is simply naïve. As it is, thousands will be pushed into poverty.
Housing Benefit payments transfers to Job Centre
One of the biggest changes involves taking housing benefit from local authorities and including it in the wider benefits system. This may come as a shock to those who have had support from their local council. Now they will have to liaise with the Job Centre.
My concern about Universal Credit is that it has largely been predicated as a cost-saving measure based around making it easier for people to get into work. There is nothing wrong in expanding work opportunities - and ending the cliff-edge that currently exists between unemployment and work. However this cannot be done on the cheap, and must remain the state’s responsibility rather than being handed over to various private agencies. The private agencies are turning out to be unsuccessful - partly because they have not been funded adequately.
My immediate concern is for those individuals who will suffer from the changes - people left with no money for 6 weeks, people with rising debts or rent arrears, worrying about being evicted. Evidence from areas which have trialled the new system is very worrying and we need to focus on how to help.
Labour-led council is providing help
It’s good that Stroud District is providing support to people claiming Universal Credit. Get in touch with them for help to make/manage claims online or if you are struggling to manage on monthly payments - they can find help or other support for you. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org