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MP calls on Chancellor to protect income under Universal Credit

Ahead of the forthcoming Autumn Budget, Bristol North West MP Darren Jones has called on the Chancellor to keep the government’s promise that no benefit claimant would suffer financial hardship, or receive less income, under Universal Credit.

This is not the first time Darren has spoken out – he also called on the Chancellor in last year’s budget to make changes to the scheme and ensure families were not facing debt because of Universal Credit. Darren also pushed for a delay to the roll-out of Universal Credit for new claimants in October last year – at that time Darren called for “the multiple flaws in the system to be sorted out or the roll-out must be put on hold”.

Whilst the government made a number of small improvements to Universal Credit for new claimants, the so-called ‘managed migration’ of hundreds of thousands of existing claimants of 6 benefit groups (including ESA, Child Tax Credit and Income Support) has continued to cause widespread concern.

Ahead of the budget, Darren said:

“Universal Credit, as it stands, is a cruel and shambolic system forcing many into debt. Claims often take weeks and weeks to resolve!

It seems from today’s (16th October 2018) leaked reports, the government are considering delaying movement of 6 groups of existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit until at least next summer (rather than January) with most moving from 2020-2023.

They are also considering supporting people on ESA, Job Seekers and Income support for 2 extra weeks whilst their Universal Credit claim is sorted along with better help for the self-employed, whose income fluctuates. It’s a disgrace that the same cover period won’t be considered for child tax credits – which are provided to low-income, often lone, working parents – because DWP and HMRC systems can’t be integrated! A similar ‘cover policy’ for those on Housing Benefit was only introduced last year after people started losing their homes because claims were often taking in excess of 6 weeks to assess.

I am clear that it should not take people to lose their homes, resort to food banks or go to unscrupulous lenders to survive for the government to act – especially when charities, MPs and advice organisations have been shouting warnings about financial hardship and waiting times for over a year. The government must keep its initial pledge that no-one should be worse-off by moving to Universal Credit. I call upon the Chancellor to use his Autumn Budget to keep that promise.

On a more practical level, once that promise has been kept, until the DWP has enough trained staff and working IT systems to move people across quickly and correctly, migration should be delayed indefinitely”.

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