Is the UK Government’s Universal Credit scheme causing our poor to sink or swim? The Scottish Government calls for a halt to full service roll-out

Research carried out by the Social Market Foundation as far back as 2012, warned of the extreme dangers in rolling out Universal Credit without proper planning for transition and crucially in the midst of an economic crisis. Tellingly they titled the report ‘Sink or Swim?’ neatly catching the historical Tory ideological position on the poor that many of them are poor because of their own laziness or ineptitude rather than their circumstances, trapped in an environment from which escape is possible for only a few rare exceptions. Here’s the concluding statement:

‘The research finds that major changes are required if the system is to support rather than frustrate the stated aims of Government policy. The new Universal Credit system will go live from autumn 2013 following five years of economic stagnation and in the midst of the Government’s fiscal consolidation drive. The context into which Universal Credit is set to be launched could hardly be more sensitive. When the financial crisis and recession hit many households had insufficient savings set aside and were highly indebted. Low income households in particular were poorly placed to cope with the economic challenges. Ten million of those in low income households are in unsecured debt. In short, the resilience of low income households was low going into the economic crisis, and their vulnerability has only increased since then.’

Five years later, it is evident, in Scotland, that the payments system is causing real hardship where it has been rolled out in full. This requires claimants to have an online account and to wait six weeks for the first payment so those already in debt or with no savings end up with a build-up of debt including rent arrears before they receive any benefit. This traps them in the debt if they are to eat or to heat their homes. Travelling to a job interview, as the Tories would surely wish, also becomes more difficult. Here’s what the Scottish government Communities and Social Security Secretary had to say today:

‘It is clear that the system simply isn’t working and the UK Government is not prepared to make the necessary changes. The six week delay in receiving a payment – with longer delays for some being experienced – is a completely unacceptable situation and one which has the potential to push low income households into further hardship and homelessness. Despite the UK government having these issues highlighted in the pilots for Universal Credit and by councils, charities, housing associations and parliamentarians, absolutely no meaningful reassurance has been received…..It is time for the UK Government to admit their mistake, and put people at the heart of their system, instead of ideology.’

It’s not even as though the UK welfare system was particularly generous in the first place. See this from Glassdoor:

‘The UK is in the bottom four [of 14 most developed nations] overall taking into account factors such as maternity and paternity leave, general parental leave, paid holiday allowance, paid sick leave and unemployment benefits. Only the Swiss, the Irish and the Americans have a more frugal government policy.’


3 thoughts on “Is the UK Government’s Universal Credit scheme causing our poor to sink or swim? The Scottish Government calls for a halt to full service roll-out

  1. macgilleleabhar March 22, 2017 / 1:44 pm

    Now we should all know exactly what Thatcher meant by “Return to Victorian values”.
    This is the intended outcome.


    • johnrobertson834 March 22, 2017 / 5:35 pm

      Next, child labour, relaxed pollution laws in the North, forced conscription if parents earn less than £20 000pa……


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s