Universal Credit disaster must be paused
Pause the Universal Credit roll out
Steve Reed MP has called on Ministers to pause the Universal Credit roll out after its introduction in Croydon left many people in serious debt and unable to pay rent or buy food.
Speaking in Parliament, Steve said the scheme had been proven to be a ‘total and utter disaster’ and that over 1,000 tenants in Croydon had over three months’ rent arrears.
Claimants are forced to wait
The Universal Credit scheme is intended to replace existing benefits with a simpler payment system, but it has been hit by delays and IT problems. Claimants are forced to wait 6 weeks for initial payment, which has driven many into debt. In Croydon, the council has had to set aside £3 million of its own budget to prevent tenants being evicted.
The House of Commons recently voted in support of a motion calling on the Government to pause and fix the system, but Ministers have ignored the vote.
Speaking in the debate, Steve Reed MP said:
A long and growing stream of people have come to my office, many of whom have been close to tears because universal credit has forced them into debt. It has made it harder for them to stay in work and left many of them facing eviction for rent arrears.
Universal credit is an unmitigated disaster for hundreds of the most vulnerable people in Croydon North. If the roll-out continues before the system is fixed, those hundreds will become thousands. People just cannot cope.
What kind of system penalises the poor, and forces people out of jobs and on to benefits and into food banks?
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Minister for Employment must do what this House instructed them to do in a recent vote: pause and fix the system before it devastates any more lives.
Steven Reed is Labour MP for Croydon North and Shadow Minister for Children and Families. In 2018 his private member’s bill on reducing violent mental health restraint became law. In June 2019 he launched Labour’s civil society strategy outlining radical plans to empower citizens and communities.
Steve chairs the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network, co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London, was Leader of Lambeth Council 2006-12 where he led the council’s children’s services to become best-rated in the country and pioneered the public-health approach to tackling violent youth crime. He worked in publishing for 16 years and was an elected trade union branch secretary.