I have called for a pause in the roll-out of Universal Credit after hearing first-hand accounts of people from my constituency who have been faced with eviction and being unable to feed their children because of delays in payments of Universal Credit.
In my speech at the Labour Party conference last month, I highlighted the experience of an Oldham nurse (Alison) who waited more than six weeks for a payment as she transferred to UC.
Alison’s situation is appalling but unfortunately she is amongst the first of many thousands of people across the UK who will be pushed into debt and rent arrears by the Government’s universal credit policy which includes a six week wait for your first payment.
It’s incredible that the Work and Pensions Secretary, David Gauke, is suggesting that people who have no money whilst they are waiting for their first UC payment can get a loan to make ends meet. Mr Gauke could and should immediately end the misery caused by the six week wait for payment of Universal Credit.
Weeks ago, I wrote to him calling for a pause to Universal Credit roll out. Since then former Tory prime minister John Major has described the roll-out ‘operationally messy, socially unfair and unforgiving’. And 14 Conservative MPs have recognised that the programme is failing, yet he will not act to stop the misery his government’s policies are causing.
At Work and Pensions Oral Questions in the Commons (9/10/17), I asked David Gauke, “How many more families does the minister estimate will be made homeless this winter as a result of his Government’s refusal to pause UC roll out?”
This floundering Tory Government presses on despite the evidence that Universal Credit is causing debt, rent arrears, and homelessness up and down the country, with many of the claimants who are affected already in work.
Housing Associations are saying that over 80% of rent arrears are down to UC and the Mayor of Greater Manchester is predicting rough sleeping will double in his region as a result of UC roll out. With all the opposition and warnings about the dangers of continuing the national roll-out of UC David Gauke can’t seriously still believe that the system is fit-for-purpose.
This leaves me to conclude that, in spite of the evidence, this Tory Government don’t want to lose face and so are prepared to press on with UC roll out regardless of the harm it is causing. It’s shameful.