By David Hanson MP / Latest News / / 0 Comments

Co-signing letter on Universal Credit to Government

I have joined 123 MPs of different parties to sign a letter to David Gauke MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to urgently call on him to delay the planned roll-out of Universal Credit to 55 new areas a month from next week, to avoid hardship and increased debt for millions of families. Currently, Delyn is one of the pilot areas for Universal Credit and I have already been approached by many people who are struggling with the new regime.

The letter pointed out how the complicated system of claiming is already struggling to cope with just 5 new areas a month having been rolled out earlier this year.

The system for claiming Universal Credit is a shambles, even with only 5 new areas a month. According to the government’s own figures, almost a quarter of claimants wait longer than 6 weeks for their payment. Some families wait 12 weeks or more, pushing many into rent arrears or a spiral of debt that is almost impossible to get out of, as their income under Universal Credit is too low to pay off the loan.

David Gauke must now do the decent thing and delay next week’s planned 11-fold expansion until Universal Credit systems are working properly. If he doesn’t, then hundreds of thousands more families each month will have to suffer weeks with no money, causing them long-term financial problems.

It would be a huge injustice for so many families to suffer simply because the government will not admit they still can’t get Universal Credit working properly.

The letter also pointed out that less than 40% of claimants register successfully with the government’s compulsory online portal, and that the phone ‘helpline’ is simply an automatic message, directing claimants to the website, so they can’t find out what is happening with their claim.

Citizens Advice has already called on the government to delay the programme in light of the evidence from the people they help, of whom over half had to borrow money whilst waiting for their first Universal Credit payment.

Councils and Landlords’ organisations have also called for the roll-out to be delayed as over half of recipients of Universal Credit are in rent arrears. Many tenants are in danger of eviction and some landlords now refuse tenants who are on Universal Credit, making housing problems worse.

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Full text of the letter to David Gauke:

Dear Secretary of State

Please delay the planned huge expansion of Universal Credit

We write to ask you to please urgently reconsider the planned huge expansion of the roll-out of Universal Credit next month.

Universal Credit has been rolled out to 57 areas so far this year and has around 500,000 household recipients. As you know, the planned expansion from October is to 55 further areas per month – set to flood the system with almost as many applicants again, every single month.

In light of the mounting evidence of the problems caused by long delays in benefit payments – long-term debt, rent arrears and evictions, and the resulting impact on family relationships, anxiety and depression – we urge you to proceed with continued caution with Universal Credit so as not to endanger the millions of people due to be affected in the next few months.

Last week the DWP Select Committee heard about the current problems with the system and the information released by DWP showed that on the basis of roll-out to only 5 new areas per month:

Only 77% of claims are currently processed and paid within 6 weeks. The 6 week delay causes considerable hardship, but further delays cause real long-term damage to family finances, with long-term debt, bank problems, and direct debit payment of bills no longer available. The huge influx of new claimants will cause hundreds of thousands more families to suffer such problems.

Many claimants are unaware of hardship payments and by the time they claim it is too late to prevent debt problems.

Only around 40% of users successfully log into the Gov.UK ‘Verify’ system to make an online claim. New Universal Credit applicants in the roll-out are from more vulnerable groups, less likely to have IT or be able to use the complicated system.

The ‘Helpline’ cannot be contacted. We are told that phone waits are down to 3 minutes, but that is because after 3 minutes the caller receives an automated message to look online and is then cut off.

The Landlord Portal is only at the bare minimum of functionality. It needs to be fully functioning and rolled out to all Councils and large-scale housing providers so they can assist with applicant queries and are aware when claimants have not received their UC payment so we do not see unnecessary evictions.
Please would you ensure that these problems are fully fixed and that the Universal Credit application process is working well for the current small number of applicants before the Full Service is rolled out to so many more as it will otherwise create deep-rooted hardship for families and long-term problems for millions of families that will be far more difficult and costly to resolve.

Yours sincerely

Ruth George High Peak
Marsha De Cordova Battersea
Ian Austin Dudley North
Kevin Barron Rother Valley
Hilary Benn Leeds Central
Luciana Berger Liverpool, Wavertree
Paul Blomfield Sheffield Central
Tracy Brabin Batley and Spen
Benjamin Bradshaw Exeter
Lyn Brown West Ham
Karen Buck Westminster North
Dawn Butler Brent Central
Ruth Cadbury Brentford and Isleworth
Ronnie Campbell Blyth Valley
Dan Carden Liverpool, Walton
Bambos Charalambous Enfield, Southgate
Ann Clwyd Cynon Valley
Vernon Coaker Gedling
Julie Cooper Burnley
Rosie Cooper West Lancashire
Mary Creagh Wakefield
Stella Creasy Walthamstow
Alex Cunningham Stockton North
Jim Cunningham Coventry South
Nic Dakin Scunthorpe
Geraint Davies Swansea West
Gloria de Piero Ashfield
Thangam Debbonaire Bristol West
Tanmanjeet Dhesi Slough
Anneliese Dodds Oxford East
Stephen Doughty Cardiff South and Penarth
David Drew Stroud
Jack Dromey Birmingham, Erdington
Rosie Duffield Canterbury
Maria Eagle Garston and Halewood
Clive Efford Eltham
Chris Elmore Ogmore
Paul Flynn Newport West
James Frith Bury North
Gill Furniss Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough
Hugh Gaffney Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill
Mike Gapes Ilford South
Barry Gardiner Brent North
Preet Gill Birmingham, Edgbaston
Mary Glindon North Tyneside
Roger Godsiff Birmingham, Hall Green
Neil Gray Airdrie and Shotts
Kate Green Stretford and Urmston
Lilian Greenwood Nottingham South
Andrew Gwynne Denton and Reddish
David Hanson Delyn
Emma Hardy Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle
Carolyn Harris Swansea East
Helen Hayes Dulwich and West Norwood
Sue Hayman Workington
Sharon Hodgson Washington and Sunderland West
Kate Hollern Blackburn
George Howarth Knowsley
Dan Jarvis Barnsley Central
Gerald Jones Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney
Sarah Jones Croydon Central
Barbara Keeley Worsley and Eccles South
Ged Killen Rutherglen and Hamilton West
Ben Lake Ceredigion
David Lammy Tottenham
Justin Madders Ellesmere Port and Neston
Seema Malhotra Feltham and Heston
Gordon Marsden Blackpool South
Sandy Martin Ipswich
Rachael Maskell York Central
Kerry McCarthy Bristol East
Siobhain McDonagh Mitcham and Morden
Alison McGovern Wirral South
Liz McInnes Heywood and Middleton
Catherine McKinnell Newcastle upon Tyne North
Jim McMahon Oldham West and Royton
Anna McMorrin Cardiff North
Ian Mearns Gateshead
Madeleine Moon Bridgend
Layla Moran Oxford West and Abingdon
Stephen Morgan Portsmouth South
Grahame Morris Easington
Jared O’Mara Sheffield, Hallam
Melanie Onn Great Grimsby
Chi Onwurah Newcastle upon Tyne Central
Stephanie Peacock Barnsley East
Toby Perkins Chesterfield
Jess Phillips Birmingham, Yardley
Laura Pidcock North West Durham
Jo Platt Leigh
Luke Pollard Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport
Yasmin Qureshi Bolton South East
Faisal Rashid Warrington South
Ellie Reeves Lewisham West and Penge
Rachel Reeves Leeds West
Jonathan Reynolds Stalybridge and Hyde
Lloyd Russell-Moyle Brighton, Kemptown
Naz Shah Bradford West
Paula Sherriff Dewsbury
Tulip Siddiq Hampstead and Kilburn
Ruth Smeeth Stoke-on-Trent North
Eleanor Smith Wolverhampton South West
Jeff Smith Manchester, Withington
Laura Smith Crewe and Nantwich
Nick Smith Blaenau Gwent
Angela Smith Penistone and Stocksbridge
Karin Smyth Bristol South
Gareth Snell Stoke-on-Trent Central
Alex Sobel Leeds North West
John Spellar Warley
Jo Stevens Cardiff Central
Paul Sweeney Glasgow North East
Alison Thewliss Glasgow Central
Karl Turner Kingston upon Hull East
Liz Twist Blaydon
Keith Vaz Leicester East
Thelma Walker Colne Valley
Martin Whitfield East Lothian
Hywel Williams Arfon
Chris Williamson Derby North
John Woodcock Barrow and Furness
Mohammad Yasin Bedford