Why Universal Credit must be stopped and scrapped.
Universal Credit is the punishing regime due to be more widely imposed on people with low incomes both those in and out of work.
DPAC believes that UC has too many flaws to be simply paused and fixed – it must be stopped and scrapped. UC is rotten to the core.
Universal Credit replaces six benefits – Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credit.
Seven million households will be affected, including over one million low paid part-time workers. For the first time ever people in work could face being sanctioned (having their benefits stopped) if they don’t prove to the job centre that they’re searching for better paid work or more hours. Pensioner couples will also be affected if one of them is under pension age.
Universal Credit is an economic and political disaster bringing further distress and impoverishment to those forced to endure it. To date at least £15.8 billion has been wasted on its implementation.
No civilized Government should impose this on its citizens and no opposition party should want to simply pause and fix it.
Areas already subjected to UC have reported serious hardship with visits to food banks soaring along with rates of people sanctioned and left without any income for 3 months or more.
Just some of the many problems with UC are listed below.
- UC is based entirely on conditionality for those both in and out of work. Failure to meet these conditions can lead to the imposition of cumulative sanctions which could last 3 years.
- Everyone will have to accept the Claimant Commitment and log in daily to Universal Job match account and complete your to do list and journal. There is harsh conditionality within Universal Credit such as 35 hour per week job searches.
- Even with the changes brought in at the end of last year claimants face a 5 week wait which in many cases seems to be 3 months or longer for their first payment.
- Loss of Mortgage interest payments which will now mean people have to take out a second loan if they are buying a home.
- Hardship Loans are repayable meaning the full amount of money someone is entitled to isn’t paid for months as 40% of their entitlement can be taken away to repay a loan.
- With UC, housing benefit isn’t paid straight to the landlord but to the claimant who may be in need of money to use in an emergency. In pilot areas this has resulted in up to 60% of claimants going into rent arrears.
- Letting agents are already refusing to rent to anyone claiming UC.
- Under the troubled families programme people could see their kids taken into care if the claimant is not meeting conditions set by DWP/Work Coach
- Under UC data is shared by DWP, HMRC and banks to ensure no additional income is undeclared.
For Disabled People
- UC is claimed and managed entirely digitally which is difficult or impossible for many disabled people. Any mistakes on the form will likely lead to loss of benefit or a claim being disallowed.
- Health and Work conversations are mandatory and any failure to attend will lead to your claim being closed.
- People in part time work could be forced to give up work that suits their Disability or family life in order to take up worse paid full time work or risk sanctions,.
- UC brings in the loss of Severe and Enhanced Disability Premiums which mean single disabled people lose around £2,000 per annum and a disabled couple over £4,000 per annum.
Coercion of Mental Health claimants.
- As part of the Health and Work Programme we are seeing the use of the DWP nudge unit and psycho compulsion. This effectively means the introduction of forced treatment through the use of IAPT therapists based in job centres. If claimants don’t take the treatment prescribed they face being sanctioned.
Loss of Womens’ Rights
- Changes to benefit payments will make women financially dependent on men trapping many in endless domestic violence.
- The appalling Tax Credit ‘rape clause’ means that women can only get Child Tax Credit payments for their first two children unless they can prove they were raped. This involves filling out a detailed 45 page form about being raped..
For those in work, self-employed or on zero hours contracts
- Even those in work will be expected to look for more hours up to 48 hours a week so you are not reliant on state support or face Sanctions for failing to comply. Warning- if your earnings exceed qualifying levels in a month they can close your claim and your online history will be erased when they close your claim down without warning. Make copies of all your actions to copy into your Journal or To Do List so you have evidenced back up files. To get this reinstated can take 8 months without money.
- Going on Holiday? Think Again- If you fail to do your job match account even over Christmas and other bank holidays you will have your money stopped and you must always be available for interviews.
- For every £1 earned Universal Credit takes away 63p meaning people are working for 37p for every pound earned per hour.
- Self employed people will have to submit their monthly, instead of annual, income before any UC payment, including for housing costs, will be made for that month causing untold chaos and hardship. If they earn too much in any month their claim will be closed and they’ll have to start all over again.
Motion for unions
Universal Credits – Stop and Scrap
This Meeting notes the following:
That Universal Credits, UC, was designed as an integral part of the Welfare Reform Act brought in by the Coalition Government following their election in 2010.
That underpinning the Act has been an ideological drive to making being on Welfare Benefits as degrading and punishing as possible with the intention of forcing as many claimants off benefits as possible.
Welfare Reform including the introduction of UC was accompanied with the rhetoric of benefit dependency, skivers and strivers, cheats and malingerers as a way of winning public support for pushing through the biggest changes in welfare since the 1930’s.
UC is just one part of these reforms which include the discredited and hated Work Capability Assessments, the change from DLA to PIP with a 20% budget reduction target and cuts to the Access to Work programme.
These changes are interconnected and form the core of the Tories making work pay programme.
That in November 2017 at a National Housing Summit meeting in central London Axe the Housing Act, other Housing campaigns and Disabled People Against Cuts, DPAC, called for a National joint Campaign to Stop and Scrap UC and to call a Day of Action early in 2018.
This meeting believes:
That UC can not be fixed.
That UC has to be scrapped.
That as with the Work Capability Assessments an entirely new scheme needs to be created making sure that Disabled Peoples Organisations and other groups affected are included at the heart of how these schemes are designed.
This meeting agrees:
To adopt a position of Stop and Scrap Universal Credits.
To support the national Stop and Scrap campaign called by DPAC, Mental Health Resistance Network, Housing campaigns and others.
To publicise the campaign and promote it to our members urging them to support the campaign.
To lobby the Labour Party and other organisations who currently have a Pause and Fix approach to UC and urge them to adopt and work with the Stop and Scrap campaign.
To support and build for a National Stop and Scrap UC Day of Action on March 1st
To call on Local Councils and Housing Associations not to evict tenants in rent arrears due to Universal Credit.