MP calls for re-think on Universal Credit operation
Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones has called on the Government to “put common sense above ideology” and re-think how the Universal Credit system is operated.
Universal Credit merges six benefits - income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, housing benefit, child tax credit, working tax credit - into one.
The system’s original purpose was to making the benefits simpler - with one single payment being directly into claimants' bank accounts.
However, a newly-published report by the National Audit Office says the £1.9bn Universal Credit system may end up costing more to administer than the benefits system it is replacing.
The report also states that Ministers can never know if it puts the promised 200,000 extra people in work or saves £2.1bn in fraud and error; and notes that 20% of claimants, predominantly the most needy, do not get paid on time.
Ms Jones, who has previously led a debate in Parliament on Personal Independence Payments, said: “There’s no doubt that as it stands Universal Credit is an expensive system that causes difficulties for some of the most vulnerable people in our country.
"My particular concern relates to how housing benefit is no longer paid directly to landlords. This puts many vulnerable people in a stressful situation where they could potentially lose their home. It also causes problems for some landlords. I don’t object to simplifying the process but I have real concerns about how Universal Credit is operating at present."
Emma Revie, chief executive of food bank charity The Trussell Trust, called for more support to be put in place for "groups of people most likely to need a food bank, and debt advice to be offered to everyone moving on to the new system".