Give Universal Credit £2bn, say Tories
TORY MPs are putting pressure on Philip Hammond to spend money to salvage the Government’s flagship welfare reforms.
Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of Universal Credit, has urged the Chancellor to use this month’s Budget to plough £2billion into the beleaguered system.
Yesterday he was supported by Conservative backbenchers, who said the party should be doing more to cut the cost of living for the poorest in society.
But speaking in Bali yesterday, Mr Hammond poured cold water on the idea. He said he would only consider ad hoc help to benefits claimants while the Universal Credit system is bedding in. Universal Credit, which replaces a range of handouts such as housing benefit and jobseeker’s allowance, is designed to make work pay by ensuring recipients do not lose all their benefits if they take a job.
Mr Duncan Smith resigned in 2016 after George Osborne slashed £2billion of funding from the scheme.
Tory MP Robert Halfon said: ‘I believe in the reform but it needs to go back to 2015 levels in terms of the allowance. It is supposed to be about getting people into work, but the reform is hitting single people in my constituency as they can’t do a lot of extra hours. I have always supported lower taxes for lower earners.’
Fellow Tory Johnny Mercer said: ‘It’s a good policy but it’s got to be funded correctly. When you look at increasing the thresholds of income tax, most of that is going toward the top income earners.’
Sir John Major has said the way Universal Credit is being introduced could cause the Tories the same sorts of problems as the poll tax. But Mr Osborne said there was not enough money to increase spending on the scheme.