The Child Poverty Action Group’s recent report on Universal Credit (UC) highlights a number of significant problems with UC that have been raised by frontline advisors – including administrative errors, delays and migration issues. The report’s findings are deeply concerning.
The government’s core ambitions for UC were to reduce child poverty by 350,000, simplify the social security system and ensure work always pays. It has failed to realise these ambitions. UC is making poverty worse, rather than reducing it.
The government’s decision to implement cuts to work allowances in UC and limit tax credits to the first two children in a family is an attack on low-income families which will increase child poverty.
Estimates from the House of Commons Library indicate that nearly 13,000 people in February 2018 were not paid UC in full on time and 113,000 were not paid in full on time last year – representing a quarter of new claims. This is outrageous. These delays are affecting people on low incomes who often do not have savings to rely on in such circumstances. I am very concerned about the real hardship caused, leading people to have a build-up of debt and rent arrears.
The managed migration of four million people on legacy benefits across to UC risks huge problems for those who transfer. The government must call a halt to the roll out of UC and put forward a credible plan to fix its many failings.
Our social security system should prevent people from getting into debt and poverty. It should offer genuine support for people who need it, which is why at the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto which pledged to reform and redesign UC and to scrap the punitive sanctions regime.
I will continue to call on the government to pause the roll out and come up with a plan to address the serious flaws with UC.