55p a minute to call a helpline – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg on Universal Credit

Jeremy Corbyn skewered Theresa May today at prime minister’s questions on the rollout of Universal Credit, as he urged her to do away with the unjust premium rate phone line which sees those seeking advice charged 55p a minute.

Many key stakeholders are concerned that the government’s rollout plans could see many without benefits for long periods of time – including the most vulnerable.

Add to this the fact that to seek advice can cost so much, and the sense of injustice becomes more acute.

With twelve Conservative MPs, and former prime minister John Major, all saying that the rollout should be paused, Theresa May was backed into a corner on the issue at PMQs.

The Labour leader warned that the rollout was increasing “debt, poverty and homelessness” and he asked May if she accepted it would be “irresponsible to press on regardless?”

She could only defend the system in theoretical terms, ignoring the realities on the ground, which led Corbyn to ask “I wonder which planet the Prime Minister is on?”

He pointed out that the Citizen’s Advice Bureau have described the rollout as a “disaster waiting to happen” and quoted Major’s comments that it was “operationally messy, socially unfair and unforgiving”.

Corbyn finished the session by tearing into the government across the board, ending with: “This government is more interested in fighting among themselves than solving these problems. Isn’t it the case that if the Prime Minister can’t lead, she should leave?”

And his decision to focus on Universal Credit was backed up by soft Tory Heidi Allen asking about it too. It really would seem that May’s on the rack.

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