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View from the House: Universal Credit rollout must be paused

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 October 2017

Archant

Despite huge pressure from inside and outside Westminster, the government is still yet to pause the clumsy rollout of Universal Credit (UC), its flagship welfare reform, which is causing homelessness and hunger wherever it goes.

One in four claimants moving from other benefits like Jobseekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance to UC are waiting more than six weeks to be paid, leading to rent arrears, evictions and spiralling debts.

A small concession on helpline charges is welcome but will not address these problems.

The principles behind UC are good: making sure nobody is ever better off on benefits than in work and simplifying the system are obviously worthy aims.

However the myriad of practical problems UC has encountered are having dire real world consequences. These problems need to be solved before the rollout continues. Afterwards will be too late.

UC is due in Waltham Forest just before Christmas and in Redbridge in the springtime.

In Waltham Forest the timing could not be worse: not only is it an incredibly expensive time of year for many families, DWP have also announced the closure of Leytonstone Jobcentre Plus. It has not been made clear whether the plans for Leytonstone will be postponed.

Last week, my colleagues and I heaped pressure on the government to pause the rollout in a vote passed 299 votes to nil. I also recently pressed them on UC and Leytonstone Jobcentre at DWP Questions.

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