A recent report, “Will Universal Credit Work” by the TUC and Child Poverty Action Group argues that, by its own objectives, Universal Credit will fail. The three main objectives are: reducing poverty, “making work pay” and simplifying benefits.
It will not lift families out of poverty. Nine out of ten families will not gain anything once cuts in tax credits are taken into account. In particular, disabled people who work and previously received working tax credit stand to lose £2,800. In all some 50% of claimants will lose out.
The second earners in couples or families, parents with high childcare costs or people with mortgages will be worse off if they start work or increase their hours.
The claim for the benefit has to be made online by claimants and their partners. This is a complicated process and given that not everyone has the internet and advice services have been cut, many people will have nowhere to turn to for help.
It has been said that the principle of Universal Credit may be good, but surely only in an alternative universe. Alison Garnham of CPAG said “Universal Credit is also blind to conditions outside of the benefits system: a lack of suitable jobs, the high costs of housing, and expensive childcare to name a few.”
These benefits policies and their consequences show a deliberate and callous attack on working people. VAT levels, cuts to tax credits and curbs on pay rises will lead to a massive increase in poverty, particularly among children.
By 2015, 7.1m of the county’s 13m children will live in homes with incomes judged below the Joseph Rowntree Foundation minimum income standard. People are now frequently borrowing money to pay for food and parents and even children are going to bed hungry. This is a government that is considering ending free school meals, much as Thatcher snatched the children’s milk.
Carl Gibson of US Uncut has called this type of austerity policy, Planned Poverty. For more discussion on this see http://www.michaelmoore.com/blogger/carl-gibson