20/07/2018 Universal Credit
On Friday 20th July 2018 a group of claimants and representatives of Totnes and South Devon Labour Party met Totnes M.P. Sarah Wollaston to highlight their concerns about Universal Credit. They asked her to help secure Government agreement to stop the rollout of Universal Credit in the South Hams area until these concerns are addressed. Sarah Wollaston listened to their concerns and offered to arrange a delegation from the group to meet a social security minister.
The next phase of Universal Credit is due to be rolled out in the South Hams area on 5th September 2018. From that date, all new claimants will go onto the new benefit, which replaces means-tested benefits and tax credits for people of working age. In other parts of the UK, where Universal Credit has been introduced, claimants groups and charities including Child Poverty Action Group and Citizens Advice have reported that it is making life harder for struggling families and disabled people in particular, and has led to an increase in poverty. Devon County Council’s Children’s Scrutiny Committee are so concerned about the impact of Universal Credit across Devon that they have commissioned a task group to investigate.
Lynn Alderson, Chair of Totnes and South Devon Labour Party said “We have asked the Government to stop the rollout of Universal Credit in the South Hams and Teignbridge district council areas while problems with the benefit are fixed, including reductions in the overall benefits received, which are leading to hardship. By 2020, families with children on Universal Credit will be worse off by an average of £960 a year. Disabled people being transferred to Universal Credit will lose their Severe Disability Premium, which is worth £300 a month. So far, our national Labour Party campaign has led to the scrapping of the 55p per minute helpline charge and reduced the waiting time to receive Universal Credit from 6 weeks to 5 weeks. Now we want the Government to reverse cuts in the levels of benefit overall that people are receiving under Universal Credit.”