Policy Position; Universal Credit

INFO:

Universal Credit is a new benefits system, currently being rolled out by the UK Government. The rollout is currently planned to continue until 2023, when millions of claimants will be on the new system. 

Universal Credit replaces:

  • Child Tax Credit.
  • Housing Benefit.
  • Income Support.
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit.

The secondary aim of Universal Credit is to simplify the benefits system, replacing seven benefits with one. Primarily, Universal Credit is designed to make sure work pays better than benefits, so there is a real motivation for people to enter the world of work instead of staying on benefits. 

This is done by implementing a graded scale, whereby benefits start reducing as people earn more. This way it always pays to work and we can ensure people get enough money to live on. 

My stance:

I am an avid supporter in the principle of universal credit and I am fully vested in its success in my constituency. I believe that a simplified benefits system must promote and encourage people into work, and that is exactly what the new Universal Credit does. The main problem with the discredited old system is that people were left feeling trapped in a hopeless cycle of dependency. Universal Credit seeks to empower workers, allowing people to provide for themselves and for their families. The ability to get a job and learn new skills is a fundamental requirement now, in our ever-growing economy and we want to encourage this.

We must never underestimate the positive impact of employment on the individual, the family, and our society. We will see more and more people being freed from the trap of intergenerational unemployment, we will see people earning wages for the first time, and being truly free as a result.

It is not OK to leave generations of people on benefits, which forces more money from the taxpayer. It is simply cruel to write an entire section of society off as hopeless cases and leave them parked on welfare. Instead, we should be sending out a positive message that Universal Credit is there to incentivise and empower people, with the support they need to get back into work. For too long, we have heard a grievance fuelled narrative that quite frankly undermines people’s ability to engage with the support and help available.

I am proud of our Job Centre staff, who are always on hand to help people through the process of finding work, and thereby giving them back their self- respect. I know that no system is perfect and in order to progress we must continually adapt and improve. Making Universal Credit work is not a simple or static process. For those who are struggling with the new system, there are many organisations readily available to help support you and my office will always be open to help in any way we can. 

We have already seen the DWP acknowledging issues in the system and working to correct them. From earlier this year, the seven-day waiting period has been removed so that entitlement to Universal Credit can start on the first day of the application. Housing benefit will be made easier for claimants. Not only this, but families on Universal Credit who move into work on low pay are now able to claim back up 85 percent of their childcare costs, boosting their finances by over £13,000. The success of Universal Credit can be noted in March 2018, as 820,000 people were on Universal Credit and 310,000 ( which is 38 per cent) were in employment.

I will continue to work closely with the DWP to continue to develop Universal Credit as the policy to bring a generation back into society.