Universal Credit is a flawed benefits system which MUST be changed: My Echo column today.
As the Tories go into yet another leadership contest, it is time they moved on from their self-indulgent in-fighting – and started looking after the people they are supposed to serve.
The NHS is facing cuts, schools are desperate for funding and four in ten children live in poverty. Just last week a Sunderland foodbank was forced to appeal yet again on social media for donations.
This is a national catastrophe and we need nothing less than wholesale reform. Sadly, as the battle for power continues, most would-be PM’s seem oblivious of the hardship and misery so many face.
Figures just released by the House of Commons Library reveal that over 3,300 people in Sunderland Central claimed unemployment benefits in May 2019 – up by almost a thousand on May last year.
The claimant rate in Sunderland Central now stands at 6.9 % – almost double the UK average. This is a clear demonstration of the damaging effect of Tory austerity. People need jobs and job security.
It is not, however, only those without jobs who are suffering. Over the past few months I have been contacted by several constituents who work very hard, yet are still struggling to get by.
More than a thousand working people in Sunderland Central currently claim Universal Credit to help top up their earnings; not to provide luxuries, but for essentials such as housing costs and bills.
Many, however, have been left without enough for rent or food, due to the government’s minimum five-week wait for first payments – made worse by the inflexible monthly schedule of payments.
Universal Credit is flawed. It is incompatible with the way payrolls work in too many workplaces and urgently needs to be reviewed. It has left so many struggling with hardship.
Foodbanks are now in demand by people not historically seen as being in poverty. People who work hard to provide for their families should not have to seek help from foodbanks, but they are.
The way Universal Credit is paid, or indeed not paid, is leading to rent arrears, unpaid childcare bills and a real struggle for survival. Many people are finding they simply can’t afford to work anymore.
Working families are particularly affected by these cuts to in-work support, but absolutely no-one should be forced to wait weeks on an end for support they are entitled to.
This is situation is simply unacceptable.
The Government seems content to keep chipping away at people and making their lives harder. I won’t stand for this and will continue to campaign for this flawed benefits system to be changed.