Universal Credit: Hitting the Poorest.
The nightmare that is the government's flagship welfare policy, Universal Credit, carries on. UC devised by ex-Tory DWP man, Iain Duncan Smith, was supposed to simplify the benefits system. At the time, benefits were contained in 6 forms. The idea, of changing them into one would make it easier for DWP staff and applicants, supposedly.
Many applicants have found to their cost that Universal Credit, has, in fact, made things worse. Applicants have had to wait five weeks to receive their first monthly payment. In that time many have got into arrears, with bills, rents, mortgage, etc.
Many have fallen into poverty, leading to homelessness, mental illness and many times suicide. Labour has attacked and harried the government, over this appalling record.
There was a United Nations report commissioned looking into the controversy of Universal Credit. UN investigators came to the UK to look at how this benefit was affecting the poorest. Once the report was published, it found against the government. The appalling loss of life, illness, loss of income, etc because of UC. Many have suggested that the Conservative government should be put on trial. Charged with crimes against humanity and especially the then, Head of The Department of Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith.
Many of those that have lost their jobs, between March-June, applied for Universal Credit. March-June, was the period of the lockdown, in the UK, because of the COVID-19 crisis. Many who were still in work, became part of the furlough scheme, introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. This furlough scheme was very generous, paying 80% of peoples wages. However, as the economy has got going again and many workers have returned to work, the furlough amount is dropping and will end in October. Labour under Sir Keir Starmer has called for, the job retention scheme to be extended, but, Sunak, has rebuffed all calls for this. Instead, Sunak has told unemployed people to go for UC. Sunak and the government, have also rejected, the idea of Universal Basic Income or UBI, also.
The government have defended UC, during the lockdown and after, saying they have increased the payment by £1040.00 a year. Worth again according to government sources, £9.3 million. When the job retention scheme ends, it is reckoned there could as many as £4 million out of work. Figures like this, have not been seen, since the 1980s, during the time of another Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher.
A House of Lords Committee set up to investigate the claims that UC is impoverishing the poorest in our society, has hit out at UC. The committee is made up of all party ministers including Conservative. The unemployment rate is due to rise because of COVID-19, end of the furlough scheme and applying for UC. The Committee headed by Tory, Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, has called for urgent reforms. Referring to many disabled people and women, who will be the worst hit, by Universal Credit. Lord Forsyth is said to be appalled and disgusted by the effect of UC on the poorest.
The committee has said there is nothing wrong with 6 benefits into 1, but UC needs urgent reform and fast.
Meanwhile, COVID-19, is on the rise again in the UK, leading to drastic local lockdowns. Leicester was the first English city to experience this, but since then other cities have followed suit.