The government’s Universal Credit scheme has continued to draw criticism as the man who created it – and then quit over it – said it requires billions more in cash to be effective.
Iain Duncan Smith urged the Treasury to plough an extra £2bn into the flagship benefit reform on Thursday – cash he claims was supposed to be set aside for its implementation in the first place.
Unconfirmed reports suggest incumbent Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has privately told colleagues that many claimants could lose as much as £200 a month as a result of the switch to UC, which replaces a range of existing benefits.
Speaking to the World at One programme on the BBC, McVey said on Thursday: “I have said we made tough decisions and some people will be worse-off.”
HuffPost UK today reported that as many as 580,000 people could lose out when the full rollout occurs.
So here’s a rundown of who’s been panning Universal Credit (UC) lately – and what they said...
Iain Duncan Smith
The architect of UC said on Thursday morning the reform needs an additional £2bn to operate as planned.
Duncan Smith, who quit as work and pensions secretary in 2016 in protest at cuts to UC funding, said that the imminent rollout was “functioning very well”, with tens of thousands of people finding it to be a better benefit than those it replaces.
But he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the money removed from its budget in 2016 should be restored: “We should direct the money back into Universal Credit exactly as it was originally planned to be rolled out.”
Asked how much more needed to go in to the system, he replied: “The reality is the £2bn that was taken out.”
Sir John Major
He denied he was predicting civil unrest, but warned that the government could face political difficulties of a similar nature over Universal Credit.
“If you have people who face that degree of loss, that is not something the majority of the British population would think of as fair, and if people think you have removed yourself from fairness then you are in deep political trouble,” he said.
Poll tax riots-style “chaos” will result if the government pushes on with the national Universal Credit roll out, Gordon Brown warned on Tuesday.
The former prime minister and chancellor said Downing Street would have to go back to the drawing board on the welfare scheme to avoid public disorder.
His intervention came after charities warned the nationwide introduction of Universal Credit would trigger a surge in the number of people using foodbanks.
According to reports, millions of families could be left up to £200-a-month worse off when the new system is introduced in July.
The Scottish Government
UK government welfare reforms introduced since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 will result in the loss of £3.7bn worth of benefits in Scotland by 2020-21, a report released earlier this month claimed.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the report from Holyrood on the impact of benefit reforms “paints a stark picture of the reality of life for many people in Scotland”.
She sent a copy of the report to McVey, urging her to “immediately end the freeze on benefits”.
The Government’s Response
Downing Street stressed that the PM was “listening” to claims that millions of people could end up losing up to £2,400 a year once they take up the new benefit.
Asked directly by HuffPost UK if more money could be made available in this month’s Budget, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “The PM was clear yesterday that we are listening to concerns.
“We are taking a ‘test and learn’ approach to Universal Credit, improving the system as we roll it out.”