Breaking: Labour to scrap ‘inhumane’ Universal Credit – AND unfit for purpose DWP, returning to social SECURITY

Decision will also mean end of 2-child policy – and end of humiliating ‘rape form’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will announce tomorrow that Labour will completely scrap Universal Credit (UC), calling the flagship Tory welfare reform “inhumane” and an “unmitigated disaster”.

In a speech to a rally in Chingford and Woodford Green – the seat currently held by the architect of the cruel and unfit UC system, Iain Duncan Smith MP – Corbyn will set out Labour’s plans to replace Universal Credit with a social security system that focuses on “alleviating and ending poverty, not driving people into it”.

UC has been condemned by charities and human rights campaigners – and by United Nations Special Envoy Philip Alston, who said that the government could easily and cheaply avoid the suffering and humiliation it inflicted if it wanted to.

In government, Labour will immediately end the worst aspects of Universal Credit, including:

  • ending the benefit cap and the two child limit, which alone will lift up to 300,000 children out of poverty
  • immediately suspending the punitive sanctions regime, which has been ineffective at supporting people back to work and has instead pushed people into poverty and reliance on foodbanks
  • ending Universal Credit’s “digital only” requirement, which excludes people who cannot access the internet or are not computer literate, and recruiting 5000 additional advisors to deliver this change
  • switching to split payments and fortnightly payments, including an automatic interim payment to end the five week wait

As well as scrapping Universal Credit, Labour will replace the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with a Department for Social Security, marking a radical shift from a system that “punishes and polices” people to one where social security will support people in finding work and treat them with “dignity and respect”.

Attacking the cruel system, Corbyn will tell supporters of the disaster of UC – including the humiliation intentionally inflicted on rape victims:

Universal Credit has been an unmitigated disaster. As well as being behind schedule and over budget it is inhumane and cruel, driving people into poverty and hardship.

Social security is supposed to give people dignity and respect, not punish and police them, make them wait five weeks for the first payment or fill out a four-page form to prove their child was born as a result of rape.

The Universal Credit system sums up the priorities of the Conservatives – who think they’re born to rule. A government of the wealthy cutting taxes for the super-rich while forcing people to rely on foodbanks to survive.

The Tories told us that Universal Credit would make work pay, but we have seen the opposite. More and more people who are falling into poverty have jobs, and more and more children who are growing up in poverty are living in working families.

Confirming Labour’s commitment to ending the system, Corbyn will add:

It’s time to end this cruelty. So today I can tell you that Labour will scrap Universal Credit. And we will replace the Department for Work and Pensions with a Department for Social Security – this will provide real security.

When a Labour government takes office we will introduce an emergency package of reforms to end the worst aspects of Universal Credit.

And we will introduce a new system that will be based on the principles of dignity and respect and it will alleviate and end poverty, not drive people into it.

We will lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty by scrapping the two child limit and benefit cap. The pernicious five week wait which causes so much misery and suffering will go. We will suspend the Tories’ pernicious sanctions regime, introduce fortnightly payments, make payments directly to landlords and protect women by making split payments by default, and never again will any woman have to fill in a four page form to prove her child was born as a result of rape.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood said:

Universal Credit was meant to lift people out of poverty, simplify the social security system and smooth the transition into work.

Instead it is failing those in need, pushing many into debt and rent arrears and forcing them to rely on food banks to survive.

The two-child limit and the benefit cap are driving up child poverty, and the callous sanctions regime is punishing people instead of supporting them.

Labour will scrap Universal Credit, put an end to the benefit cap and create a social security system that, just like our NHS, treats people with dignity and respect and is there for any one of us in our time of need.”

The news that the next Labour government will completely scrap the consciously-cruel Universal Credit system will represent hope of salvation to the millions of disabled, vulnerable and poor people who have suffered utter misery – completely unnecessarily – because of the Tories’ political aims and twisted ideology.

Labour’s package of measures to end that misery will:

  • reduce the five-week waiting period by introducing an interim payment after two weeks;
  • scrap the two-child limit;
  • scrap the benefit cap;
  • immediately suspend sanctions and the claimant agreement;
  • make split payments, payments direct to landlords and fortnightly payments the default;
  • officially end the “digital only” approach by recruiting 5000 new social security advisers.

These steps are additional to Labour’s existing commitments to:

  • end the out-sourcing of Work Capability Assessments and bring them back in-house
  • scrap the bedroom tax
  • increase the ESA disability benefit by £30 per week for those in the work-related activity group
  • uprate Carers’ Allowance to the same level as Job Seekers’ Allowance, recognising the billions of pounds’ worth of unpaid Labour that carers put into the UK economy

In switching – on day one of the new Labour government – from the DWP to a Department of Social Security, Labour will restore the culture of the UK’s benefits’ system so that it treats people with dignity and respect and supports them in finding work and accessing the benefits they are entitled to, instead of punishing and policing people

It will restore the benefits system to a genuine social security safety-net and support system built on the three principles:

  • dignity – social security is there to help and support people and the best way to do that is by treating people with respect and dignity, building trust and giving them agency over their lives;
  • universalism – our social security system is there for all of us and we may all rely on it as some point in our lives. By seeking to bring back a universal element we will end stigmatisation and encourage social security to be held in the same esteem as universal services like our health and education systems;
  • ending poverty – our social security system should reduce poverty, not create it, make it worse and drive people into it.

Five-week waiting period

The five-week waiting period of UC has caused immense hardship, leaving many people who rely on support penniless and in debt. Labour will end the waiting period as part of an emergency package of reforms to end the worst impacts of the system.

Labour will permanently reduce the assessment period to one week so that claimants will receive their first payment within around 10 days of making their claim. However, because this will require a complete rebuild of the DWP system, it may take some time.

In the meantime, Labour will introduce an interim payment, based on half an estimated monthly entitlement – to be paid after two weeks of making a claim, with the balance paid at the end of a month.

Then-DWP Secretary Amber Rudd has admitted that the government’s own analysis shows that the five-week wait for an initial payment under Universal Credit is causing huge hardship for claimants.

Foodbank charity the Trussell Trust says that people are being forced to rely on food banks as a direct result of the five week wait. The wait has also led to a surge in rent arrears and debt while contributing to rising poverty levels under the Tories.

Two-child limit

Labour will scrap the two-child limit on benefits because it is a cruel policy that punishes children.

  • nearly 60 per cent of families hit by the two child limit are in work
  • DWP figures show that 592,000 children live in families that have been affected by the two-child cap
  • a recent Report by CPAG and the Church of England says 600,000 children have already been affected by the policy and 1.8 million children will live in affected families by 2023-24.
  • child poverty has already soared by over half a million under the Tories, up from 3.6 million to 4.1 million today.
  • the Tories’ two-child limit could see child poverty soar even further – CPAG estimate that scrapping the policy will see a 300,000 reduction in child poverty.
  • the two-child limit also includes a rape clause, which last year meant over 500 women had to go through the indignity of filling out a four-page form to prove to the DWP that their child was born as a result of rape.

The benefit cap

The benefit cap is a cruel policy that overwhelmingly punishes children and single parents with young children. Labour will scrap the benefit cap so that the amount claimants receive is not arbitrarily reduced below the level the DWP itself deems they need.

  • according to DWP data, 85 per cent (114,337) of the 134,044 households affected by the benefit cap are single mothers
  • The Tories pressed ahead with the despite an internal government assessment warning it would force tens of thousands of children into poverty
  • since its introduction, a quarter of a million households have been hit by the cap – children live in 92 per cent of households affected

The punitive sanctions regime

The Tories’ punitive sanctions regime has eroded trust in the social security system and denied millions of people of their right to support. Evidence shows that sanctions are ineffective at helping people back work and instead push people into destitution and disengagement from the process.

The Tories’ current ‘conditionality’ and sanctions regime means that DWP staff do not have enough time to provide the high quality employment support that many claimants would benefit from. This arrangement also creates a climate of mistrust because the very person who is meant to be ensuring benefits are paid and supporting claimants back to work is also being required to police the claimant’s job search activities and to recommend when sanctions should be applied.

The next Labour government will immediately suspend sanctions and replace the “Claimant Commitment,” which people must currently sign at the beginning of making a claim, with a reciprocal agreement between the Department for Social Security and the claimant.

The emphasis in this new system will be on tailored support – delivered by a work coach – and reciprocity rather than rigid requirements and punishments when they are not met. The claimant will agree to search for suitable work and undertake training opportunities where appropriate; the claimant’s work coach will agree to help identify suitable employment and training opportunities and support claimants in taking them up.

Make split payments, payments direct to landlords and two weekly payments the default

Universal Credit makes one payment to a household on a monthly basis. The Work and Pensions Committee has warned that single household payments of Universal Credit could put claimants living in an abusive relationship at risk of harm. Labour will make split payments the default and make sure that the child element is paid to the primary carer.

The government claimed that monthly payments would be more reflective of the world of work, but this is not the case for many low-paid workers who do not receive a monthly wage. People on low incomes struggle to manage their living costs on a monthly basis.

The government has failed to offer direct payments to landlords other than in very limited circumstances. The Resolution Foundation has https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/app/uploads/2017/10/Universal Credit.pdf allowing tenants the freedom to choose direct payment of housing support to landlords.

Labour will make fortnightly payments and the housing element paid directly to landlords the default. Implementing this policy will require a one-off administrative change.

Scotland already offers claimants the option of a two weekly payment and housing payment direct to landlords and these options have seen substantial take-up.

The share of households in Scotland opting for fortnightly payments has increased steadily since the option was introduced in Autumn 2017

Ending the “digital only” approach

The government’s intention for Universal Credit to be a “digital-only” platform has failed. Labour will scrap the “digital only” fiction and acknowledge the reality that claimants need support if our social security system is to work and recruit 5000 additional advisors to deliver this change.

  • “Digital only” excludes people who cannot access the internet or are not computer literate, and leaves many claimants unable to make and manage their claims online.
  • almost 30 per cent of all claims for Universal Credit that are started are not completed according to the most recent figures, with the complexity of the online system a key reason for this.
  • the DWP’s own survey of claimants in Full Service areas found that almost half of claimants were not able to make an online claim unassisted

SKWAWKBOX view:

Labour’s astonishing, revolutionary policy package just became even more astounding – a beacon of humanity and hope for the UK in a sea of Tory cruelty and dishonesty.

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43 responses to “Breaking: Labour to scrap ‘inhumane’ Universal Credit – AND unfit for purpose DWP, returning to social SECURITY

  1. Awesome if it happens.
    Hopefully they’ll remove the MIF for self-employed too. This would have (and is already affecting some) affected half-a-million self-employed and force many to shut down business.

    • Spot on
      It’s not the benefit itself which is essential to take the welfare system forward, but as usual the hostile environment created that pushes people over the edge,
      There is nothing wrong with UC as a catch all, it was long overdue and if your serious about Universal Income and not bankrupting the country, you use UC as your baseline,
      Keep it simple, it’s a safety anc the path out of welfare dependency
      Heres a test for you,
      For every pound you earn on Universal Credit how much should you be allowed to keep

      • Doug its a shame we are not so discriminating when giving handouts to disgustingly rich royals,Lords expenses,..mps pensions etc etc….etc!

      • Joseph
        Socialism for the 5%
        Bank bail outs and QE for creditors dwarf any investment we make in welfare benefits

    • Answer is 100%
      If your serious about breaking welfare dependency and universal income then allow people to work their way out of poverty,
      Would need two elements,
      Combine paye and n.i.
      Set two different rates for those on benefits and those in full time employment, allow them to converge at around £27,000 p.a.

      • New word Doug ..social security, tory words curtain twitchers and welfare dependency banned.Newer kinder politics from now on.The conservative culture must be obliterated and concentrate on the one percent who are bleeding us dry.We will not have anymore Tory victimization of easy targets such as the working classes and basically stuff the Tory party and their sick supporters… Regards comrades

  2. Interesting parallels between UC and Brexit : both right wing scam initiatives using superficially worthy but deceptive notions to screw people aka : snake oil.

    • Excellent, we need decent welfare for all but be ready to counter the Right Wing Narrative of strivers and skivers (reinforced by the Right Wing media whose owners are the real global scroungers putting their money offshore to avoid paying tax and giving to society). The Tories want job insecurity and cruel working class welfare to discipline the workforce so it is passive and to avoid a militant workforce.
      But of course our working class welfare state is under attack but the luxurious upper class welfare state of tax subsidies, reliefs and benefits is booming – corporate welfare in the UK for example is £97b a year which is equal to £3,500 from every household.
      Tax avoidance by the rich some estimate is £120b and New internationalist argued that tax stashed by the rich globally in illicit offshore banks is in the region of 12 trillion dollars.
      So it is great Labour is standing by the 14m in poverty (including 7m working poor) and 4m kids in poverty but also go on the attack to make the rich pay their full due!
      Interesting Streekt (2016) argues that when the Tory and Lib Dem Neo-Liberals gave big business corporations billions in tax cuts the corporations then bought govt bonds with the money so instead of giving what was due via tax they were getting more back in interest.
      The Tories and Lib Dem Neo-Liberals to make up for the loss of tax revenue from the corporations then put up the indirect tax of VAT so working people were paying for corporation tax cuts (VAT hits the poor the hardest) – a Neo-Liberal Tory/Neo-Liberal Lib Dem Triple Whammy!
      Fight for decent welfare and make the rich and big business pay up!
      Solidarity!

    • RH,
      The scam is persons pushing the meme that somehow Brussels has a social welfare policy, which, and as Prof. Wolfgang Streeck, is as far from reality as one can get – I’d check out his most recent academic paper if I were you, which in many ways chimes with what Bill Mitchell postulates – makes very uneasy reading for Remainiacs.

      • ‘Remniacs’

        Christopher – you’ve blown your argument.

        BTW – Who said anything about Brussel having a ‘social welfare policy’?

        Nor has the prized alternative offered by the Leavers – the US.

      • RH,

        The fact is there is nothing ‘Social’ about the EU, and this has been the case since the change in title from the EEC to the EU – Delors used to emphasise three pillars, one of which was very much ‘Social’ today the EU commits to one of these three pillars only, and it ain’t the Social one!
        Still, stay in your TINA head, but do stop suggesting that Leftwingers who support exiting the EU, indeed, dismantling the EU, are in league with Rightist Exit forces, which they are not and just remember, neoliberalism is our enemy and the EU, like it or not, is now a neoliberal bastion.

      • Those who implicitly support the right-wing plot over Europe can’t be ‘left wing’ by any stretch of the imagination. Their whole prospectus is balloney, actually supporting obeisance to US capitalism.

      • christopher rogers “The scam is persons pushing the meme that somehow Brussels has a social welfare policy”

        I think you’ve lost the plot; since when was the EU a country? Britain has its own social welfare policy and so do the other 27 countries.

        The Brexit question is remarkably simple, with an equally simple answer. Will any form of Brexit benefit the UK? – NO.

  3. I can already hear the complaints from the media “Labour will turn the nation in to a sponger’s paradise and feed the country to the dogs”.

    But, I bet on the fake headlines which will be printed it will pursuede many turkeys to vote for Christmas. Sad

    • Aidey
      Fact
      It costs twice as much to screw people into the ground,
      The only people who profit are the barrel scrapers looking for cheap votes,
      Which unfortunately includes New Labour

  4. RH “right wing scam initiatives using superficially worthy but deceptive notions to screw people” agreed and so is dropping the notion of ‘presumption of innocence’ so that members can be suspended without due process – the witch hunt continues even under Jennie Formby.

  5. I’m concerned that there may be much difficulty persuading people that all this is actually possible after they’ve been told so relentlessly and for so long by the Tories that a tenth of this level of services is impossible to provide.
    Hopefully Hammond’s ‘unexpected’ discovery of the previously-scoffed-at magic money tree just in time for an election may help.
    We have to choose between giving the media a vast amount of budgetary detail or giving nothing, which I suspect may be the best policy. The Tories will either nitpick the detail to death or appropriate the policy given half a chance.
    I think we should instead conclusively prove the case that the crash grew out of Thatcher/Reagan’s deregulation and that austerity was a political not an economic necessity for the Tories and finally lay the crock of “Labour overspending” to rest.

    Spitting Image is returning – yay – but for the American market – boo – according to Mary Beard’s Front Row Late on the subject of satire.

    • I thought Mary Beard raised a pertinent question as to whether we’re now in an era that is beyond satire, the reality being so grotesque.stating the blindingly

      … and when a BBC presenter can be hauled over the coals of propriety for stating the blindingly obvious, what chance is there for actually taking the piss in the same way as Spitting Image did? (Although Alexei Sayle is getting away with it on radio)

    • I turned it over when she mentioned at the start that the Labour conference was a valid topic for the kind of satire she was talking about. She probably likes Dead Ringers.

      Is that true Spitting Image is returning and if so why the fuck in America! Since Have I Got News For You decided to abandon satire for the Establishment/MSM circle jerk (See also the Mash Report, FFS), there’s been no satire worthy of the name on British TV.

      • If you can’t stand the heat, you should stay away from the kitchen. Politics is the stuff of satire – including the Labour conference.

        Where I do agree with you is regarding perormers passing off as satire rehearsal of establishment tropes and showing no political insight.

  6. This crazy action by the BBC has nothing to do with Trump or Munchetty, it’s about setting the ground rules for the way the BBC staff are allowed to criticise Netanhayu.

    • Just read the News….the lies are bad enough but its become a free for all at the tax funded bbc if we allow the personal bias of individuals to interfere….maybe they might stitch up a political party they don’t like and invent an AS scam…I wonder?

  7. Another great policy. Unfortunatley the vast majority of people will never hear about it because the MSM will not mention it.
    The first thing that is taken over in a coup is the media unfortunately the right took over the media a long time since.
    I am now really concerned that we are destined for a life of more and more aggressive neoliberalist free market bollox.

  8. The new ‘friendly’ approach-
    ‘The claimant will agree to search for suitable work and undertake training opportunities where appropriate; the claimant’s work coach will agree to help identify suitable employment and training opportunities and support claimants in taking them up’

    hmmm, unless i’m mistaken that sounds a lot like conditionality.

    • Hmmm, hope the favourable noise is not another fudge / “compromise”. Until we get. a new approach of assertive, clarity, unapologetic robust presentation and evidence for our policies, it will be an upward struggle. UC & DWP are NASTY & WICKED. US firms are making VAST profits inexchange for cruel counterproductive Tory projects. All while we are in the EU. We need to be brave and stop it •▪️⚫️

  9. Ah end of hmm sadly for many aktion T4 is still rolling along with out much of a ado.

  10. Labour will restore the culture of the UK’s benefits’ system so that it treats people with dignity and respect and supports them in finding work

    …and jump-starts the moribund British music scene, which was built on the benefits system and duly expired around the time Cameron’s mob got in (although tbh John Peel dying in 2004 didn’t help either!).

    • Only trust funders can afford to pursue careers in music and the arts, fact,
      Its devastated working class kids chances, which is a travesty and economically insane,
      Rivals insanity of race to bottom of centrists on crime, under new labour prison population doubled to 80,000 at £50,000 p.a. each
      GENIUS of hostile environment
      What is current national debt ?

      • Exactly. Great music or any kind of art is usually born out of conditions of adversity or struggle, not comfort or security – there’s no grist in that mill. When only rich kids get a look in, you get a cultural scene much like the bland, conformist one we have today.

  11. The bit of this equation that socialists have always had trouble with is the mutual obligation. we have never been able to satisfactorily outline what constitutes, ‘From each according to his work, to each according to …..” It only takes one or two conservative self – seekers to undermine confidence in a mutual obligation. How do we handle those so depressed by prior circumstances to make efforts or contributions.

    • Felicity……Lets concentrate our resources on the Tax dodging Tory captains of industry and our off shore tax fraudsters.That would plug any shortfall.Theyre all at it media luvies superstars football club chairman.We have a culture of elitist parasites aided and abetted by The Tory party.

    • I’ve always argued we need to get more community workers out there amongst the poor who may have given up.
      They should follow the ideas of Paulo Freire to draw from their own lives and ask where the power is, to empower citizens and open up possibilities for the left behind and those who may have given up.
      We need to tap the ideas of working people (and I include the unwaged) and just as an aside re the school climate strikes perhaps we should also be asking the young people for their ideas for what should be done?

      • Bazza
        The number of individuals who wont work are negligible, the number who cannot work but want to do something is greater,
        The number of underemployed is huge in casino economy

    • No
      It comes down to how you frame the question,
      Do you believe there should be a safety net below which no individual will be allowed to fall

  12. At last. LP and its ‘reform’ was ridiculous. Some things are just too much of a mess to be reformed.

    • Forgot to mention devolution to Scotland and Wales to allow them to manage their own Welfare systems,
      Big leap forward to take power away from cheap and nasty Tory party

  13. We march loud and proud with an unapologetic manifesto for the many!

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