Campaigning MP Caroline Flint has thrown down a challenge to PM Theresa May over her handling of Universal Credit payments. The Labour MP for Don Valley, did not hold back as she challenged the Prime Minister Theresa May on the Government’s Universal Credit programme during the, as always, heated Prime Minister’s Questions.
Said Flint to the Prime Minister: “Does the Prime Minister agree with her Work and Pensions Secretary that half of lone parents and around two thirds of working age couples with children under Universal Credit will lose the equivalent of £2,400 a year?”
Flint continued: “And if we are to believe the Prime Minister’s promise to end austerity, will she promise today to reverse the £3 billion worth of cuts that are built into the Universal Credit roll out?”
The Prime Minister replied that the managed migration – moving people over from existing benefits to the newer Universal Credit – would start next year, initially on a small scale basis. She then confirmed that claimants moving over to Universal Credit will not see their benefits protected.
Speaking after Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms Flint said: “This is a problem of the Government’s making. Universal Credit should make life simpler for low income families. It doesn’t. The cuts built into it, along with delays, mean that in places like Doncaster, rent arrears are rising and people are getting into debt. Theresa May can claim that austerity is over, but for these families it is anything but.”
Doncaster Council has reported that 20 percent of rent arrears are accounted for by Universal Credit; and eight out of ten with rent arrears found they increased after moving onto Universal Credit.
The Government is now removing the funded support provided by local councils for Universal Credit claimants and placing this role solely with Citizens’ Advice. Doncaster MBC has supported 1,750 local citizens with claims since 2016.
Said Flint: “It is vital that Doncaster Citizen’s Advice has the resources and organisation to cope with the huge numbers who will need their help and support.”