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Tinkering at the edges is not good enough - Universal Credit needs to be overhauled and the roll-out immediately halted says Usdaw

Date: 17 October 2018 Paddy Lillis has welcomed today’s opposition day debate in the House of Commons and renewed Usdaw’s call on the Government to immediately halt the roll-out of Universal Credit. That would enable a fundamental rethink and a complete overhaul of a system that is broken and will not work.
Paddy Lillis - Usdaw General Secretary said: “Universal Credit is about to make life a lot worse for millions of low-paid workers. It’s a system that doesn’t work in the real world and everyone knows it is broken.
 
“It gives our members no confidence to hear the Secretary of State today insist  they will continue with the roll-out, regardless of their claim they ‘will test and learn’. That approach is even less convincing when we see the complete mess they’ve made of Employment and Support Allowance.  Tens of thousands of people on sickness benefits are believed to be owed an average of £5,000 following government errors.
 
“We are not convinced that any changes by the Government, while the roll-out continues, will go far enough to mitigate the significant impact Universal Credit will have on workers claiming in-work benefits. Tinkering at the edges is not good enough, Universal Credit needs to be overhauled and the roll-out immediately halted.
 
“While it was introduced to ‘simplify the benefits system’ and ‘make work pay’, the basic premise of Universal Credit has been undermined by a series of cuts. Even the Secretary of State has had to admit that ‘some people will be worse off’ and it has been reported that ‘she had told Cabinet colleagues that some claimants would lose out to the tune of GBP200 a month’.
 
“We have made representations to the Chancellor, as part of his budget consultation, calling for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be immediately halted. Fundamental issues have been identified with the scheme that will disproportionately impact low paid workers on short, insecure contracts. Without these issues being addressed, I do not believe that the Government can legitimately continue with the roll-out of the programme.”
 
Usdaw research has shown that a couple with children, earning just above the National Living Wage, one working full time and one working part time, will be £1,866 per year worse off under Universal Credit, with single parents set to be hit even harder.
 
Usdaw’s ‘Time for Better Pay’ campaign tackles the causes of in-work poverty and seeks to develop an economy where work pays. A survey of over 10,000 workers has laid bare the issues that working people are facing as a result of low pay, short and zero hours contracts and insecure work. Nearly one in four rely on in-work benefits and as only a small number are already on Universal Credit the Government’s roll-out will have a significant impact. Based on this evidence the campaign is calling for four key actions:
  • £10 per hour minimum wage for all workers over 18.
  • Minimum contract of 16 hours per week for all employees who want it
  • The right to a contract based on an individual’s normal hours of work
  • An end to the misuse of zero hour contracts.
For more information: https://www.usdaw.org.uk/Campaigns/Time-4-Better-Pay
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with around 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion
 

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers