In September, Labour announced that it would scrap the controversial benefit Universal Credit once in government, and replace it with a reformed social security system.
Margaret Greenwood MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, came to campaign in Swindon the day this news was announced.
This is welcome news in Swindon where we have had Universal Credit rolled out for a couple of years. As a former trustee of the Wiltshire Law Centre, I saw the impact the delays to payment had on peoples’ ability to pay their rent and just how easy it is to end up in court for rent arrears.
I’ve also campaigned alongside the parents and carers who struggle with how the childcare element is paid- in arrears.
I’ve seen residents in tears when the benefit has been withdrawn suddenly and overnight, leaving them struggling to support their families.
The concept of a simplified benefit system was a good one. Universal Credit has failed to meet that aspiration. UC is complicated and unpredictable for those who cannot secure regular work. Debt can suddenly appear in a month when circumstances change or work has been scarce or over the summer holidays when 6 long weeks of childcare are needed.
I’m completely in favour of a Department for Social Security that will take the stigma and anxiety out of claiming. Tax credits introduced under the previous Labour government really did help people back into work- we need something that once again does make work pay and supports those who cannot work to stay out of debt.