Tories knew Universal Credit was causing hardship but pressed ahead regardless

The UK Government knew it’s flaghip new Universal Credit (UC) benefit was pushing vulnerable people into poverty and debt in 2017, an official study reveals.

A joint report from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HMRC looked at the impact of the new system on tax credit claimants who were moved to UC following a change in circumstances.

It found that nearly two-thirds (60%) of former tax credit claimants who were transferred to the new benefits system were struggling to keep up with bills.


Photo: Pixabay

And more than half of those surveyed for the report struggled to cope with the initial six-week wait for UC, which has since been reduced to five weeks but charities and campaigners say this is still too long to wait.

The reported, dated November 2017, was quietly snuck out by the DWP on Thursday morning, almost a year and a half after it was finished. The study took place between October 2016 and July 2017.

A section from the report reads: “Overall, 25% said they were having real financial problems and falling behind with many bills and commitments, 13% said they were falling behind with some commitments, and 13% said they were keeping up but it felt a constant struggle to do so.”

The then Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke MP decided to press ahead with the roll-out of UC, despite almost certainly knowing about the report and its damning findings.

Margaret Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, questioned why the government has only chosen to publish the reports finding now.

“It is shameful that the Government’s own survey should find that nearly eight out of ten of those moving from Tax Credits to Universal Credit are struggling with their bills”, she said.

“Why has the Government only published these findings now, if the research was conducted between October 2016 and July 2017?

“Universal Credit should be helping people out of poverty; instead it is pushing many people into debt and towards food banks.

“The Government must take notice of its own research and stop Universal Credit as a matter of urgency before more people are pushed into poverty.”

A near empty food cupboard. Photo: Oxfam.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “This isn’t a surprise to us, despite the data being a few years old.

“This tallies with experiences of the people we’ve helped who have struggled financially when they’ve been moved on to universal credit.

“While the government has made some changes to support people moving on to universal credit since this research, these do not go far enough.

“Half of the people we help while waiting for their initial payment are unable to keep up with bills or rent.”

A spokesperson for HMRC said: “Since January 2018, customers can get an advance of up to 100% of their estimated monthly UC entitlement while they wait for their first payment.”

Last updated at 08:04 (GMT) on 5 April 2019.

Get News Updates!

Register to receive a notification each time we publish a new story. Don't worry, we'll never spam you and it's easy to cancel at any time. Service provided by Google Feedburner.

- Sponsored Content -

Trending Now

UK pensioners ‘suffering the worst poverty rate in western Europe’

Tories warned against further rises to the state pension age.

Nearly half of DWP staff are dependent on benefits to make ends meet

At least 40% of DWP staff are claiming benefits to top-up low wages.

Social housing tenants who damage their home ‘should face benefit sanctions’, report says

Report claims "rogue tenants" have cost taxpayers in London around £3.4million since 2014.

A homeless person dies every 19 hours in austerity Britain

Services are failing to protect homelessness people, say campaigners.

The Latest

Nearly half of DWP staff are dependent on benefits to make ends meet

At least 40% of DWP staff are claiming benefits to top-up low wages.

New DWP Secretary refuses to commit to ending the benefit freeze

Thérèse Coffey also claimed there is "no causal link" between the two-child benefit limit and rising child poverty.

Tenancy reforms leave private renters at risk of ‘revenge evictions’

Tenants who complain about or request repairs unfairly removed from their homes.

Social housing tenants who damage their home ‘should face benefit sanctions’, report says

Report claims "rogue tenants" have cost taxpayers in London around £3.4million since 2014.

New SNP childcare pledge to ‘lift families out of poverty’

Free childcare pledge to save families £4,500 per year for each child.

2.6 million mid-life workers expect to leave their job to care for a relative

Government urged to invest in long-term and sustainable social care funding so that more people can remain in work.

Follow Us

16,666FansLike
9,373FollowersFollow

More Articles Like This