Universal credit was part of the radical reforms to the country’s welfare system by David Cameron’s coalition government. Part of this was the introduction of Universal Credit and was introduced by the then Secretary of State for Work and Pension, Iain Duncan Smith. Universal Credit supposedly makes receiving benefits easier than the previous system, working tax credit.
From the start however Universal Credit was inudated with problems. Claimants who stopped claiming working tax credit and switched over to Universal Credit had to wait over 6 weeks between payments. Many of those who receive Universal Credit rely on it to survive, so having to wait 6 weeks meant that many families struggled to get by. Evictions soared as the poorest in the nation saw their cash flow halted and their minimal savings meant they had no money for rent.
An MP who has long been vehemently opposed to the Universal Credit scheme is Laura Pidcock, the MP for North West Durham. A passionate campaigner for the rights of disadvantaged people, she asked the Prime Minister in Prime Minister’s Questions “is the rollout a matter of gross incompetence or calculated cruelty?” It is the common opinion amongst the majority of the public that the conservative government know very well what they are doing and that they are deliberately taking away financial aid to vulnerable people.
Jeremy Corbyn has consistently called upon the Prime Minister to pause the roll out of Universal Credit, claiming that up to 20% of recipients are dissatisfied with the scheme. Surely, if 1 in 5 people aren’t happy with Universal Credit, then this is enough for the government to pause it or even get rid of it entirely. In the eyes of the conservative government, who are being increasingly vilified, this is not enough. It has also been revealed 1 in 6 do not receive Universal Credit payments on time, so even once they are past the initial change over the government is still causing problems.
Those who receive Universal Credit shouldn’t expect change any time soon from the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther Mcvey. The new Tory benefits chief has a long history of making controversial, alarming and cruel comments about the most disadvantaged people in society. Some of these include refusing to provide benefits to up to 300,000 disabled people, based on the belief that they’re bodies will somehow magically heal, she has also refused to link the rise in food bank usage to increased cuts to welfare. No doubt due to her alarming actions whilst she held the seat, she was defeated by the Labour candidate, Margaret Greenwood in the 2015 General Election. It may come as no surprise that she was then chosen as parliamentary candidate for Tatton, a safe Tory seat previously held by George Osborne. This was obviously a deliberate move by the upper echelons of the Conservative Party to keep Mcvey in the House of Commons as she would carry on the welfare cuts initiated by Iain Duncan Smith.