LONDON - (Labour Buzz) Labour has pledged to abolish Universal Credit. This is in line with growing public consensus that the system is extremely unfair and inhumane. But questions remain around what a future Labour government would do in respect of welfare.

At a recent rally in Chingford, Jeremy Corbyn promised, “Universal Credit has been an unmitigated disaster. As well as being behind schedule and over-budget, it is inhumane and cruel, driving people into poverty and hardship.”

He went on to say: “Social security is supposed to give people dignity and respect, not punish and police them, make them wait five weeks for the first payment or fill out a four-page form to prove their child was born as a result of rape."

"When a Labour government takes office we will introduce an emergency package of reforms to end the worst aspects of Universal Credit. We will introduce a new system that will be based on the principles of dignity and respect, and it will alleviate and end poverty, not drive people into it."

If Labour win the next general election, things that would immediately change include:

 

1.    End to the five week wait

People applying for Universal Credit have to wait for up to five weeks for their first payment. In some cases, up to nine weeks.

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged an automatic interim payment system and a switch to fortnightly payments. So immediately, people would receive their money faster.

 

2.    Lift in the benefit cap

The Conservatives introduced a cap on the benefits each household can receive. Corbyn has promised to abolish this cap.

The benefit cap outside Greater London is:

£384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re a couple, £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re a single parent and your children live with you, and £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) if you’re a single adult.

The benefit cap inside Greater London is:

£442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you’re a couple, £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you’re a single parent and your children live with you, and £296.35 per week (£15,410 a year) if you’re a single adult

 

3.    Scrap the two child limit

Families do not receive support for a third child born on or after April 6th 2017. George Osborne introduced this when he inflicted unnecessary austerity on the United Kingdom. This means any third child does not quality for the child payment of £2780.

Labour will scrap this limit immediately lifting 30,000 people out of poverty. Speaking at the rally, Jeremy Corbyn said, “The two-child policy means that the largest families often have the poorest children, who achieve the least at school. And the stress involved in Universal Credit, and the cost of its administration, is massive. What we're saying is end the two-child policy, end the capability for work assessment test."

 

4.    Labour will remove the work capability test

All claimants have to complete a UC50 form, to assess their ability to work. Healthcare professionals undertake an assessment including a physical examination. Claimants are categorised as fit to work, limited capability for work or unfit to work. Labour has pledged to axe this element of Universal Credit.

 

5.    Labour will stop sanctions

Recipients of Universal Credit have to concede to a Claimant Commitment. Failing to adhere to the commitment results in your Universal Credit being reduced. There are varying degrees of sanction, but in extreme cases they can last up to three years.

 

6.    End the digital only application process

Applications for Universal Credit must be made online. A lot of applicants do not have internet access.

Universal Credit applications are completed online. Christians Against Poverty has said, "Digital exclusion is a significant challenge for many people helped by us. In our own research we found that 22 per cent said they do not have access to the internet at home, on a computer or smart phone. As Universal Credit is designed to be digital-by-default, difficulties making a claim online featured strongly amongst our clients."

Labour will ditch this element to make the system fairer to those who do not have internet access.

 

(Written by Brendan Chilton, edited by Sam Gallagher)

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