Amber Rudd must halt Universal Credit: Letter from South West Labour MPs
The Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House, Tothill Street
London, SW1H 9NA
30 November 2018
We are writing to you as Labour MPs in the South West to call for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be stopped and for measures to be put in place to reverse the hardship it has caused.
As the roll-out continues across the South West, we have witnessed our constituents being pushed into poverty. People in receipt of Universal Credit report going hungry, being left unable to afford clothes, toiletries or heating, and struggling to pay rent.
We have seen cases of families being forced into debt and rent arrears, resulting in the threat of eviction. We have families surviving on foodbank vouchers.
The threat of cruel sanctions forces vulnerable and chronically ill people to make long and difficult journeys or risk having their payments stopped.
The digitalisation of the Universal Credit claim process is also causing real hardship. We have seen cancer patients forced to make journeys on public transport from rural villages to try to manage their accounts using library computers and obliged to make repeat journeys or face brutal sanctions every time there is any issue with their claim.
We have seen the most vulnerable in our society depending on charity subsidies, forced to choose between heating their homes, feeding their children or paying their rent.
Professor Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, made his concerns clear in his recent report on the UK.
“Government policies have inflicted great misery unnecessarily, especially on the working poor, on single mothers struggling against mighty odds, on people with disabilities who are already marginalised, and on millions of children who are locked into a cycle of poverty from which many will have great difficulty escaping,” he wrote.
Prof Alston stated that Government ministers have been “entirely dismissive” of these concerns. However, the concerns must be addressed before the ‘managed migration’ of three million people to Universal Credit, described as the biggest and most important stage of the roll-out, is implemented.
Without rigorous reconsideration, the ‘managed migration’ stage will have disastrous implications. This sentiment is echoed by charities, including Mind, which warns that the process is difficult to navigate for those with mental-health problems.
With regulations for the managed migration of Universal Credit due to be reviewed by Parliament before the end of the year, this is a last opportunity to pause and address the failings of its implementation. We urge the Government to review the current system and acknowledge the findings of the independent reports including the UN and multiple leading charities.
David Drew MP
Ben Bradshaw MP
Thangam Debbonaire MP
Darren Jones MP
Kerry McCarthy MP
Luke Pollard MP
Karin Smyth MP