West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has called on the government to stop the roll out of Universal Credit after conflicting government statements have shown confusion over the impact on claimants who will be required to transfer to claiming Universal Credit from next year.
Universal Credit was rolled out in West Lancashire in December 2017, but the next phase will mean nearly three million people over the next four years currently claiming the benefits such as Tax Credits and ESA, being required to claim Universal Credit instead.
Universal Credit has caused severe hardship for many people so far with long waits for initial payments leading to people building up debts, rent arrears or even being forced to turn to food banks for help.
That is if they get that far as almost 30% of claims for Universal Credit started, are never completed. The government has failed to investigate the reasons for that but the complexity of the online system could be one key explanation.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“The government must stop the roll out of Universal Credit. The major flaws in its design and delivery are pushing many people into poverty rather than protecting them from it.
“The confusion caused by the conflicting statements by the Prime Minister and Work and Pensions Secretary over the past week about whether people will lose out financially as a result will have caused them real concern. I know from my West Lancashire constituents that many have lost out financially.
“Despite the evidence we are seeing of the impact of Universal Credit, the government seems determined to press ahead with the next phase of the roll out. I am calling on it to step back from the brink before it is too late and stop the roll out.
“It needs to look at areas like West Lancashire where Universal Credit roll out has fundamentally and spectacularly failed leaving residents hungry, cold or homeless, and fix the system or bin it.
“I have written to both Theresa May and Esther McVey pleading with them to fix it or bin it.”
The last week has seen controversy over whether people who are required to transfer to Universal Credit during the next phase of the roll out will lose financially as a result. It was reported that the Work and Pensions Secretary had told Cabinet colleagues that families could lose up to £200 a month.
Where there is no change in their circumstances they will receive what is known as Transitional Protection which is an additional payment designed to ensure that they will not be worse off as a result of moving across to claim Universal Credit.
However, that will only last for two years and could be lost due to a change in circumstances such as a couple moving in together or separating.