I’ve campaigned for many years against the huge losses of income for people on Universal Credit.
With the government having planned to vote next month on transferring a further 3 million households, I’ve been working especially hard over the last few weeks with national charities and MPs of all parties as chair of the All-Party Group on Universal Credit.
So I’m delighted that the government seems set to delay its plans. But I’m worried that they are only considering short-term measures to prevent people suffering a huge drop in income as they transfer from the old benefit system onto UC.
This protection only lasts until people have a ‘change in circumstances’, which takes on average an estimated 18 months. After that, their income will drop to Universal Credit levels.
The losses are eye-watering for people on low incomes already. As the Secretary of State told her Cabinet colleagues, many lone parents will lose £50 a week.
Disabled people are set to be even worse off, with thousands set to lose their Severe Disability Premium worth £3,300 a year.
Last month Universal Credit ‘rolled out’ to people in High Peak and already I am receiving messages of distress from constituents who will be considerably worse off.
Even though Universal Credit started over 5 years ago, these losses have not yet affected most people who are due to claim as mostly only single unemployed people claim UC so far.
This summer, before the roll-out in High Peak, there were 330 claimants of Universal Credit, but only 10 are people with disabilities, and 20 children in households on UC.
These numbers will rise as more people make a new claim for benefits or their circumstances change so they have to apply for Universal Credit instead of changing their existing benefits.
Overall, 3,700 children in High Peak are in households due to move onto Universal Credit, and 2,200 disabled people. The losses of income will have a huge effect on an estimated 7,000 households in this constituency alone – more than 1 in 6 people.
So although we have had a temporary victory, it is hugely important to continue to campaign against the poverty that Universal Credit is still set to inflict on 7 million households.
I have been very pleased that more and more people are taking notice and especially to receive hundreds of emails from constituents asking me to stop the roll-out of Universal Credit.
That’s exactly what I have been doing, and I will continue to campaign against poverty and to help people who are struggling.
That’s what I came into politics to do and it’s wonderful to represent a constituency where so many people share that belief.