The next Labour government would scrap the Tories’ “inhumane” Universal Credit scheme and replace it with a social security system that focuses on “alleviating and ending poverty, not driving people into it”, Jeremy Corbyn is expected to announce on Saturday.
As well as putting an end to the “mitigated disaster” of Universal Credit, Mr Corbyn will also pledge to replace the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with a Department for Social Security, which the Labour leader says would mark a shift from a system that “punishes and polices” people to one where social security will support people in finding work and treat them with “dignity and respect”.
Immediately upon entering government, Labour will end the worst aspects of Universal Credit including scrapping the benefit cap and two-child limit, and suspending the “punitive” benefit sanctions regime, which Jeremy Corbyn will blame for pushing poor and vulnerable people to food banks.
He also vowed to immediately put an end to Universal Credit’s “digital only” requirement, which excludes people who cannot access the internet or are not computer literate, and recruiting 5000 additional advisors to deliver this change.
Corbyn will also change the payment system to fortnightly payments and allow for split payments. The current minimum five-week wait will also come to an end.
Other Labour welfare policies to be announced on Saturday include:
- Ending the out-sourcing of Work Capability Assessments and bringing them back in-house;
- Scrapping the bedroom tax;
- Increasing ESA by £30 per week for those in the work-related activity group;
- Uprating Carers’ Allowance to the level of Job Seekers’ Allowance.
Criticising Universal Credit, Jeremy Corbyn is expected to say: “Universal Credit has been an unmitigated disaster. As well as being behind schedule and over budget it is inhumane and cruel, driving people into poverty and hardship.
“Social security is supposed to give people dignity and respect, not punish and police them, make them wait five weeks for the first payment or fill out a four-page form to prove their child was born as a result of rape.
“The Universal Credit system sums up the priorities of the Conservatives – who think they’re born to rule. A government of the wealthy cutting taxes for the super-rich while forcing people to rely on foodbanks to survive.
“The Tories told us that Universal Credit would make work pay, but we have seen the opposite. More and more people who are falling into poverty have jobs, and more and more children who are growing up in poverty are living in working families.”
Announcing Labour’s intention to scrap Universal Credit, Jeremy Corbyn is expected to say: “It’s time to end this cruelty. So today I can tell you that Labour will scrap Universal Credit.
“And we will replace the Department for Work and Pensions with a Department for Social Security – this will provide real security.
“When a Labour government takes office we will introduce an emergency package of reforms to end the worst aspects of Universal Credit.
“And we will introduce a new system that will be based on the principles of dignity and respect and it will alleviate and end poverty, not drive people into it.
“We will lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty by scrapping the two child limit and benefit cap. The pernicious five week wait which causes so much misery and suffering will go.
“We will suspend the Tories’ pernicious sanctions regime, introduce fortnightly payments, make payments directly to landlords and protect women by making split payments by default, and never again will any woman have to fill in a four page form to prove her child was born as a result of rape.”
Margaret Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “Universal Credit was meant to lift people out of poverty, simplify the social security system and smooth the transition into work.
“Instead it is failing those in need, pushing many into debt and rent arrears and forcing them to rely on food banks to survive.
“The two-child limit and the benefit cap are driving up child poverty, and the callous sanctions regime is punishing people instead of supporting them.
“Labour will scrap Universal Credit, put an end to the benefit cap and create a social security system that, just like our NHS, treats people with dignity and respect and is there for any one of us in our time of need.”