Thursday, November 21, 2019
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Esther McVey under mounting pressure over ‘shambolic’ Universal Credit

Tory welfare chief Esther McVey is facing renewed calls for an immediate halt to the ‘shambolic’ roll-out of Universal Credit, with MPs warning the UK government’s botched policy has been devastating for communities across the UK.

Drew Hendry MP (SNP), whose constituency has been a pilot area for Universal Credit, told the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme that the UK government needed to stop the roll-out, listen to the evidence, and fix the deep-rooted problems with the system, which has pushed people into poverty and crisis.

The call follows a warning by former Tory Prime Minister John Major, that the policy had the potential to be as unpopular as Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax.

The Resolution Foundation estimates Universal Credit, and other Tory welfare cuts, will see the number of children in the UK living in poverty rise to 5.2 million by 2020.

While Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has admitted millions of families could lose £200 a month under the new system.

McVey told BBC News: “I’ve said we made tough decisions. Some people will be worse off.”

However, she added: “Under the old system, 700,000 people didn’t get £285 a month, so they didn’t get the money they were owed. Under the old system the most vulnerable in society weren’t getting as much money as we are now going to give them.”

DWP HQ, Caxton House, London. Photo: Paul Billanie for Welfare Weekly.

Commenting Drew Hendry, SNP MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, said: “Pressure is mounting on the Tory government to immediately halt the shambolic roll-out of Universal Credit, which has been devastating for communities across Scotland and the UK.

“When even former Tory Prime Ministers are publicly warning about the damage being done by this disastrous policy, the UK government must finally listen to the evidence and fix the deep-rooted problems with a system that has pushed people into poverty and crisis.

“It is a disgrace that this botched Tory policy is leaving millions of families poorer and worse off – cutting incomes by hundreds or thousands of pounds, taking vital support away from the disabled, leaving claimants without money for months on end, and forcing families to rely on food banks and emergency aid just to get by.

“After a decade of failed Tory cuts it is vital that the UK government uses the forthcoming Budget to end austerity, reverse the cuts to social security, and deliver meaningful investment to boost household incomes.”

Labour has hinted that it would scrap Universal Credit. John McDonnell said earlier this week: “I think most people now are coming to the conclusion Universal Credit has got to be scrapped.”

He added: “We are at that stage when it’s not sustainable anymore. It’s not a system that can work. It’s not a system that can provide the safety net that people expect when they need support.

“We are moving to a position now where it’s just not sustainable. It’ll have to go.”

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