Hilary Benn - Member of Parliament for Leeds Central
I have been contacted by a number of constituents about the rollout of Universal Credit (UC).
I’m extremely concerned about the impact that Universal Credit is having on people living in Leeds and across the UK.
As you know, Universal Credit is a single payment which will replace six means-tested benefits and tax credits for working-age individuals and families. It was designed to lift people out of poverty and smooth the transition into work to ensure that it always pays. However, the reality is that Universal Credit has been plagued by problems in its design and delivery which has caused real hardship for many people across the UK. I agree with you that the rollout should be stopped.
The National Audit Office recently found that Universal Credit may end up costing more than the benefit system it is replacing. It also stated that it cannot be proven that Universal Credit helps more claimants into work and concluded it is unlikely to ever deliver value for money. In addition, an inquiry by a House of Commons Select Committee concluded that Universal Credit is causing unacceptable hardship and warned that the Government’s approach is failing claimants.
I’m aware of recent reports that the Government plans to delay an upcoming vote on Universal Credit managed migration draft regulations, which would see three million people transfer across to the new system. While I hope that the Government has at last woken up to the devastating implications of managed migration, Universal Credit is deeply flawed and many people are due to move onto it outside of managed migration. The policy is simply not working: it is pushing many families into poverty, rent arrears and to foodbanks.
The Government needs to stop the rollout of Universal Credit as a matter of urgency and deliver a social security system that supports people rather than one that pushes many into poverty.