Outcry forces government to delay mass Universal Credit roll-out

The government has delayed imposing Universal Credit on three million people

The government has delayed its plan to expand the Universal Credit social security system to three million more people.

A vote had been planned in the next few weeks but Parliament will now be asked to vote only on a plan to expand the scheme to 10,000 more people.

However, the government continues to insist that all social security recipients will be on Universal Credit by 2023 as planned.

Opposition parties celebrated the delay. Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood said:

Hopefully the Government is waking up to the devastating implications of its so-called ‘managed migration’ to Universal Credit.

However, Universal Credit is deeply flawed and many people are due to move onto it outside of managed migration. The policy is simply not working: it is pushing many families into poverty, rent arrears and to food banks.

The Government needs to stop the roll out of Universal Credit as a matter of urgency and deliver a social security system that supports people rather than one that pushes many into poverty.

The SNP also celebrated the delay but said that the system needs an overhaul. Work and Pensions spokesperson Neil Gray MP said:

Any pause to the botched roll-out of Universal Credit is welcome, but it shouldn’t have taken this long for the Tories to listen to the SNP and the huge number of anti-poverty charities who have condemned the system.

The roll-out of Universal Credit to areas across Scotland has already seen more people pushed into poverty, debt and destitution – forcing families to rely on food banks and emergency aid just to get by.

Now that the penny appears to have finally dropped, the Tories must now take this opportunity to overhaul the system and fix the problems that have caused so much misery in Scotland and across the UK.

Any movement to mitigate the worst of the problems that the botched rollout of Universal Credit has caused is welcome, but fundamental reform is urgently needed for those who have already been affected.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on poverty has also criticised Universal Credit. On a research trip to the UK, he called it “mean spirited and callous” and said it puts women at risk of domestic abuse.

Problems with Universal Credit include it being confusing and difficult to claim for single parents, it resulting in more homeless people being sanctioned and people being denied prescriptions and dental care.

Joe Lo is a freelance journalist and reporter at Left Foot Forward

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