Labour Pledge to Scrap Universal Credit AND The DWP

Labour Pledge to Scrap Universal Credit AND The DWP

27th September 2019 11 By Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital
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Jeremy Corbyn will tomorow announce that should Labour win a General Election, they will scrap the controvertial benefit Universal Credit as well as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). He will also pledge to end several other policies enacted by the Tories since 2010 that have led to the rise of poverty and inequality across the UK.

Universal Credit may only be six-years-old, but it’s name is already tarnished beyond repair. After a year of contradicting statements, Labour have finally pledged to scrap the working age benefit altogether.

Since it began rolling out in 2013, Universal Credit, which is meant to replace six so called “legacy benefits”, has been beset with problems. While issues in the early days are to be expected, it just seems to have gotten worse as time went on.

The process for which sick and disabled claimants are assessed is frequently critisized, the payment system to landlords still has major issues and several damning reports have been critical of the Tories “flagship” policy.

Previous Labour Policy

For over a year now, Labour officials have been giving conflicting reports. It started last September when John McDonnell told a Labour Conference Fringe event that he’d scrap UC, only for the Party’s Press team to hit back saying that they were;

“conducting a route and branch review of Universal Credit.”

For some that was very frustrating as they saw it as a way of kicking the problem into the long grass. Even last week John McDonnell again stated Labour would scrap the benefit only for Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margret Greenwood to it play down, albeit very little.

So the news that Jeremy Corbyn will announce scrapping Universal Credit as an official party policy, will come as welcome news to many, myself included as I am on Universal Credit.

Corbyn To Pledge Welfare Shake Up

Jeremy Corbyn Speaking in Brighton | Copyright Black Isle Media

Tomorrow, the Labour Party Leader will address a rally in Chingford and Woodford Green, the seat currently held by Iain Duncan Smith MP, the architect of Universal Credit.

Corbyn will set out Labour’s plans to replace Universal Credit should they win a General Election, with a social security system that focuses on “alleviating and ending poverty, not driving people into it”.

He will first set out an emergency package that Labour will introduce on entering government. This is to provide an immediate improvement to claimants lives. Changes they would implement immediately will include;

  • Reduce the five-week waiting period by introducing an interim payment after two weeks, with a view to lowering it to just one.
  • Scrap the two-child limit;
  • Scrap the benefit cap;
  • Immediately suspend sanctions and the claimant agreement;
  • Make split payments, payments direct to landlords and fortnightly payments the default;
  • Officially end the “digital only” approach by recruiting 5000 new social security advisers.
  • Abolish the DWP for a Department of Social Security

Labour have released a statement outlining what Corbyn will tell those in attendance at the rally on Saturday.

“Universal Credit has been an unmitigated disaster. As well as being behind schedule and over budget it is inhumane and cruel, driving people into poverty and hardship. 

“Social security is supposed to give people dignity and respect, not punish and police them, make them wait five weeks for the first payment or fill out a four-page form to prove their child was born as a result of rape. 

“The Universal Credit system sums up the priorities of the Conservatives – who think they’re born to rule. A government of the wealthy cutting taxes for the super-rich while forcing people to rely on foodbanks to survive. 

“The Tories told us that Universal Credit would make work pay, but we have seen the opposite. More and more people who are falling into poverty have jobs, and more and more children who are growing up in poverty are living in working families.”

Universal Credit Dumped

The Labour Leader will go on to finally give his party a clear welfare policy for the anticipated upcoming General Election.

“It’s time to end this cruelty. So today I can tell you that Labour will scrap Universal Credit. And we will replace the Department for Work and Pensions with a Department for Social Security – this will provide real security. 

“When a Labour government takes office we will introduce an emergency package of reforms to end the worst aspects of Universal Credit.

“And we will introduce a new system that will be based on the principles of dignity and respect and it will alleviate and end poverty, not drive people into it.

“We will lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty by scrapping the two child limit and benefit cap. The pernicious five week wait which causes so much misery and suffering will go. We will suspend the Tories’ pernicious sanctions regime, introduce fortnightly payments, make payments directly to landlords and protect women by making split payments by default, and never again will any woman have to fill in a four page form to prove her child was born as a result of rape.”

The pledge to end the benefit cap and two child limit is just as important as the scrapping of Universal Credit. This will end children being valued by their date of birth, not to mention removing the abhorrent need for rape victims to disclose and relive their experience.

DWP To Go As Well

DWP - Department for Work and Pensions sign

Labour have also set out their plans to develop a new social security system built on the following three principles:

  • Dignity – social security is there to help and support people and the best way to do that is by treating people with respect and dignity, building trust and giving them agency over their lives;
  • Universalism – our social security system is there for all of us and we may all rely on it as some point in our lives. By seeking to bring back a universal element we will end stigmatisation and encourage social security to be held in the same esteem as universal services like our health and education systems;
  • Ending poverty – our social security system should reduce poverty, not create it, make it worse and drive people into it.

The current opposition party state they want to “change the current culture” of the DWP to one that works for everyone, not just those deemed useful. To the Tories only working people are considered important.

In addition to this, Labour have already committed to:

  • Ending the out-sourcing of Work Capability Assessments and bringing them back in-house;
  • Scrapping the bedroom tax;
  • Increasing ESA by £30 per week for those in the work-related activity group;
  • Uprating Carers’ Allowance to the level of Job Seekers’ Allowance as has already been done by The Scottish Government.
Margret Greenwood MP
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margret Greenwood

Margret Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has reacted to the announcement by saying;

“Universal Credit was meant to lift people out of poverty, simplify the social security system and smooth the transition into work.

“Instead it is failing those in need, pushing many into debt and rent arrears and forcing them to rely on food banks to survive.

“The two-child limit and the benefit cap are driving up child poverty, and the callous sanctions regime is punishing people instead of supporting them.

“Labour will scrap Universal Credit, put an end to the benefit cap and create a social security system that, just like our NHS, treats people with dignity and respect and is there for any one of us in our time of need.”

Winning Policy?

While Brexit may hog the limelight, many will see this as a General Election winning policy.

After all, regardless of what happens with Brexit, if the Tories remain in power nothing will improve for the some 14 million people in poverty across the UK.

Labour have been unclear on welfare for some time. At least now they now have an unequivocal policy that could win millions of voters over.

The rise of foodbanks, poverty and destitution in the UK has been shameful. The current government have battered vulnerable people from pillar to post. Maybe, just maybe things could be about to change.

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