Rother Valley MP demands a stop to Universal Credit

Sir Kevin Barron. Photo: Richard Maude
Sir Kevin Barron. Photo: Richard Maude

I have contacted been by many constituents about Universal Credit (UC) payments, in particular the five-week wait for the first UC payment, writes Sir Kevin Barron MP.

UC is the Government’s flagship welfare reform and it has been plagued by problems in its design and delivery.

I have many concerns about the in-built five-week wait for the first UC payment.

I believe the excessive waiting period is a key defect of UC and I agree that the Government should cut the five-week delay.

This wait for the first UC payment is unprecedented in social security and I believe that it is unrealistic and senseless to leave people without a payment during this time.

Furthermore, I believe that offering claimants a loan to cover this period does not solve the problem.

In November 2018, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty in the UK warned that the five-week wait pushes many people who may already be in crisis into debt, rent arrears and serious hardship.

In addition, a report by the Trussell Trust found that, on average, 12 months after the rollout of UC, food banks saw a 52 per cent increase in demand, compared to 13 per cent in areas with UC for three months or less.

Indeed, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions recently accepted that there is a link between the initial rollout of UC and difficulty accessing money, and the increased use of food banks.

I believe that UC is clearly not working, as it is pushing many families into poverty.

I firmly believe that the Government must stop the rollout of UC as a matter of urgency and deliver a social security system that supports people.

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