The ongoing problems with Universal Credit have prompted Ruth George MP to set up a new All Party Parliamentary Group to monitor problems and support MPs to assist their constituents.
Ruth, a member of the Select Committee for Work and Pensions, is working with the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) who have agreed to provide support services to the Group to assist and resource MPs.
In September Ruth co-ordinated a letter from over 100 MPs of all parties to call on the Secretary of State to slow down the roll-out of Universal Credit. Now she has invited all MPs to join the cross party group, with the inaugural meeting arranged for 2pm on Tuesday 31 October.
The invitation sets out the Group’s aims:
“Universal Credit will affect 7 million households when it is fully rolled out – an average of over 10,000 households in each constituency. These are the poorest working age people in the UK and it is in all of our interests to ensure that Universal Credit works for them.
“In that spirit – I am establishing an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Universal Credit for MPs of all parties to be able to come together to discuss the experiences of our own constituents and local advice and support agencies, to share best practice at supporting constituents and to monitor this important policy as it is rolled out.”
Mrs George hopes that a wide range of MPs will join the Group given that an average of more than 10,000 households in every constituency will be affected when the changes are fully rolled out.
“We know that Universal Credit is not working as well as we would have hoped. Besides the minimum 6-week initial waits, we hear of ongoing problems with obtaining information on earnings from employers, difficulties for people who are paid weekly or 4-weekly (as so many are), and problems for claimants fulfilling the work-related conditions for Universal Credit, especially if they are disabled or have children.
“As politicians, we all need to monitor how Universal Credit is working, and MPs are well placed to do this if we work together as so many constituents come to us when they have a problem with their benefits.
“I have had interest from MPs of all parties, including Conservatives. I have sent all MPs lists of the numbers of people in each constituency who will be affected by the current roll-out of Universal Credit, as well as those on existing benefits who will transfer onto UC before 2022. At least 5,000 households will be affected in each constituency, so I hope that every MP will look at their local impact over the next few years and work together to make sure that Universal Credit works as best as it can.”
Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, explained the role that the charity hopes to play:
“Child Poverty Action Group Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has expert knowledge of the tax and benefit system, and a good and up-to-date understanding of problems in the benefit system through the helplines and resources we provide for specialist and frontline advisers so we were pleased that Ruth George asked us to assist the new Group and I hope that we can help MPs with practical issues for their constituents and help to identify any widespread problems.”
The inaugural Meeting on Tuesday 31st October from 2pm to 3pm will elect officers and involve as many MPs as possible in a discussion about the future work programme.
Notes to Editors
Ruth George was newly elected as Labour MP for High Peak in June’s General Election, having overturned a Conservative majority of over 5,000. Prior to the election, she worked as Parliamentary Officer for Shopworkers Union Usdaw, working with MPs of all parties on crucial issues for shopworkers, including Sunday Trading, as well as Tax Credits and Universal Credit.
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Child Poverty Action Group is a centre of expertise and campaigning on child poverty, welfare rights, and related issues such as fair pay, childcare, benefits and tax credits. Our spokespeople regularly feature on television, radio and in print media.
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