Universal Credit - 38 Degrees Campaign

Thank you for contacting me about Universal Credit (UC). 

Universal Credit is the biggest and most fundamental reform to the welfare state since its creation. It is a modern benefit based on the principles that work should always pay and those who need support receive it. It is also fair to taxpayers.

In 2010, the welfare bill cost each household £8,350. This was an increase of nearly £3,000 per household since 1997. Not only was this system failing to reward work, but it was the taxpayer bearing the burden.

I firmly believe that UC is a fair benefit that protects vulnerable claimants and ensures that work always pays. As UC is a simpler, more accurate benefit based on up-to-date information, it will provide people with their full entitlement. This means that 700,000 people will receive on average an extra £285 per month which they have not received under the existing system. Around a million disabled claimants will gain on average £100 a month through UC, because their award is higher through UC than legacy benefits.

Having said this, colleagues and I continue to monitor the implementation of UC and the issues that have arisen. I will continue to lobby to address these issues given the unnecessary distress and impact they are causing to many constituents. Constituents are supposed to be better off under UC. It is important that this is the case and that constituents are not pushed into totally unnecessary hardship.

In this year’s budget, the Chancellor announced a £4.5 billion package for UC, which will make a real difference to the lives of claimants across the country. An extra £1.7 billion a year will be put into work allowances, increasing the amount that hardworking families can earn by £1,000 before their award is tapered away, providing extra support for 2.4 million working families.

Rightly for a programme of this scale, the priority continues to be its safe and secure delivery. The controlled expansion of UC started in April 2013 and I am pleased that significant progress has been made to date. By the end of this year, UC will be rolled out to every Job Centre in the country.

I hope this explains why I support this important reform, albeit with certain caveats. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.