PM should scrap Universal Credit
THE hated Poll Tax eventually proved Margaret Thatcher’s undoing; if the Brexit shambles doesn’t unseat Theresa May, will Universal Credit?
The UC roll-out is about 20 per cent complete here in Stroud and already it’s a mess. I’d intended a letter recounting some of the case histories I’ve heard first-hand – but lack of space dictates that’s just not possible. Several common experiences recur, however.
The application process is very complicated, and many people simply don’t have the skills to tackle it – the promised mentoring for those in need is proving insufficient. Many applicants don’t have computers and have problems accessing and using the internet. Any slip-up and swingeing sanctions are applied.
Many claimants don’t understand that even when their application has been successfully completed there is still a minimum wait of five weeks – and it’s frequently far longer – between the last of the old benefits payments and the first of Universal Credit… and women are faring worst of all from this highly flawed scheme.
People are being plunged into debt and building up rent arrears, which is leading to evictions and further increases in homelessness. The payments claimants are ending up with under UC are almost invariably less than they received under the old system – yet UC will ultimately prove far more expensive to implement and run than the old benefits system.
The idea of rolling all benefits into one isn’t in itself that bad, but its mismanaged implementation and the mean-spirited thinking behind it make it an awful one. It appears that those suffering the worst effects of our appallingly unequal economy are being forced through a terribly demeaning, overcomplicated process into a worse situation than they were in before.
Margaret Thatcher declared there’s no such thing as society, and her successors have done their level best to destroy it. Now, almost unbelievably, there’s a whole rash of publicity about Tory politicians donating to food banks – whose number they’ve increased by 700 per cent – and grinning for the cameras in front of them. Do they really not see the insult they’re adding to injury?
When the removal lorries roll up to Number 10, Mrs May could at least put one thing right: she could scrap Universal Credit.
Alan Bowkett, of Cinderford, Gloucestershire, took this photo of dramatic skies over the Forest of Dean
Esmond Lane took this photoat Hayles Fruit Farm, near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire