Ahead of a vote in the House of Commons today (Weds 18 October), Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has challenged Tory MPs to support a motion to pause the roll out of the disastrous Universal Credit programme.
The call follows reports that up to 25 Conservative MPs may be willing to rebel against the Government over their flagship social security programme, as evidence continues to mount that it is pushing people further into debt, rent arrears and even evictions. A panicked Theresa May held emergency meetings with potential rebels on Tuesday in a bid to quell the anticipated revolt.
This will be a major test for a government. The DWP’s (Department for Work and Pensions) own data shows that one in four claimants are having to wait over six weeks to receive any funds, with half of those in rent arrears reporting that they went into debt after claiming Universal Credit.
Debbie Abrahams MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, calling on Conservative MPs to support the motion, said:
“The Government has so far not listened to MPs’ concerns about the mounting issues with their flagship social security programme. We must stand together to make our voices heard.
“I urge Conservative MPs to vote with their conscience and support our motion to pause the roll out of Universal Credit. The social security system is meant to protect people from debt and arrears, not exacerbate their situation.
“We must pause and fix Universal Credit now, before millions are made worse off.”
One Tory MP will already be absent for the vote. New Scottish MP Douglas Ross – already infamous for incendiary comments about Gypsy Travellers on video – will be missing to ‘run the line’ at a Barcelona football match. This may mean that Tory ‘whips’ are not enforcing attendance – or even that the Tories will repeat their last-ditch tactic to avoid defeat in votes by simply not bothering to vote.
“Real wages will, remarkably, still be below their 2008 levels in 2021.” IFS, Autumn Statement analysis, 24 November 2016
“A record high of 55 per cent of people in poverty are in working households.” Joseph Rowntree Foundation, ‘In work poverty hits record high as the housing crisis fuels insecurity’, 07 December 2016
“Typically people on Universal Credit only have around £3 a month left to pay creditors.” Citizens Advice, ‘Universal Credit expansion is ‘a disaster waiting to happen‘ says Citizens Advice’, 11 September 2017
Government’s own data shows that one in four new claims is not being paid in full in six weeks and half of Universal Credit recipients need a loan to cover the first six weeks. DWP, ‘Universal Credit Statistical Ad Hoc: Payment Timeliness’, September 2017
Half of families in arrears under Universal Credit have said that their rent arrears started after they made their claim. DWP, ‘Research into families claiming Universal Credit’, September 2017
“More than 25 Tory MPs are now prepared to rebel over the Government’s flagship welfare reforms amid mounting calls for a “pause” in the roll-out of Universal Credit.” The Daily Telegraph, 8 October 2017
Phillip Hammond has conceded there is are “challenges” with Universal Credit. “We recognise that there is a challenge around the waiting time and the cash flow management that people have during that waiting time.” BBC Breakfast, 2 October 2017
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