Universal Credit a train wreck that must be stopped – Stephen Lloyd

As Winter approaches, the last thing you would want is for people to be without money for weeks on end, yet this is what the Government is about to inflict on thousands of benefit claimants as it rolls out Universal Credit. Evidence shows that the 6 week wait (and longer in many cases) for the first payment is causing real suffering and distress.

This morning, Conference will debate an emergency motion calling for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be halted until the problems with it can be fixed. From the Guardian:

The party’s work and pensions spokesman, Stephen Lloyd, is to say in a speech on Monday that the party has lost faith in the coalition’s flagship welfare reform with its accelerated rollout just weeks away, and that the Conservatives have altered it beyond recognition.

“The Tories ideological fixations over universal credit are leading to appalling consequences for thousands of people,” he will say. “And if it is not checked, stopped right now, in its tracks, so the failings can be addressed, it will be tens of thousands of our fellow citizens slipping into into grotesque levels of debt.”

Lloyd is convinced thousands of families will lose their homes unless the policy is rethought, and hopes the Lib Dems will work with Labour and some Conservative MPs to force a change.

“I know the shadow secretary of state, Debbie Abrahams. I worked with her on the work and pensions select committee when I was last an MP,” he will say. “Let’s both join together in demanding the government pause the universal credit rollout, and let’s do it now, together, before it’s too late.”

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  • Richard Underhill 18th Sep '17 - 9:52am

    Stephen Lloyd MP (Eastbourne) was on the Sunday Politics (Southeast) on BBC1 with a Tory junior minister. Stephen said he had been on the parliamentary committee and had warned Ian Duncan Smith (former cabinet minister for welfare). He described as “fantasy” the objective of the tory policy. The system has been rolled out in two parts of the constituency of the tory minister at different times. The minister continued to support what appears to be a tory ideological obsession. Previously rent or mortgage payments had been paid directly to landlords.

  • Sue Sutherland 18th Sep '17 - 11:02am

    I’m so glad Stephen is making a stand on this. When the change from direct payment of HB was made I understood that this was a good Liberal idea but many people in receipt of HB find difficulties in managing their money for different reasons and investors in housing require a reliable rental income. Of course the major concern has to be the considerable time without funds that people have to suffer which is causing quite unnecessary extreme hardship but the changes to HB payments must be exacerbating this.

  • The really poor will end up in the arms of the money-lenders and with the interest rates will probably be out of pocket for months, like kicking someone when they are already down. It is a terrible mistake of the Conservatives to turn a blind eye to semi-legal finance companies ripping off people as it brings capitalism and hence themselves into disrepute.

    No idea why they changed the HB payments either, seems silly, at least with direct payments landlords would know they would eventually get the money even if there was a delay. Guess the new universal benefit system is aimed at discouraging people to apply and go get a job instead or based on the assumption that everyone is paid a month in arrears and therefore have some breathing space. Unfortunately, they have already booked in the savings in universal benefits so no chance they are going to change it.

  • While I appreciate that you have to give a system a chance of succeeding, no one should have been under the illusion that a potential 6 week wait for initial payment was going to be anything other than disastrous for anyone claiming a means-tested benefit. It seems strange that we are only now hearing that this system should be re-thought, and that’s before we consider that any advance payment is a loan.

    “the change from direct payment of HB” – it can still be paid directly to the landlord in special circumstances. I would expect that any vulnerable group would be able to ask that it’s not paid directly into their bank account and would hope it happens without too much bother.

    “at least with direct payments landlords would know they would eventually get the money even if there was a delay.” – but there are plenty of landlords who won’t rent to those on housing benefit. Bad landlords were there before UC and there has been little done in England (see rejection of the fit for human habitation bill) to encourage better landlord behaviour and little done to prevent ever more ridiculous rents.

  • Bill Fowler 19th Sep '17 - 1:18pm

    You have to be careful with rental standards, when I was renting in London I opted for a cheap and nasty bedsit because it was less than half the price of a studio flat, and I did this so I could save a large chunk of my income. I knew it was only for a year or so until I got the money I wanted so was kind of thankful that the choice was there. You can bet that if the landlord was forced to upgrade the accommodation then he would up the prices as well.

  • I’ve just made a new claim for Universal Credit today. The date of my first payment = November 17th.

    So fortunate that my landlord and utility companies only charge me once every 7 weeks rather than monthly…

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