Universal Credit waits are ‘inherently flawed’ says Waveney MP

MP Peter Aldous at the Save All Hallows Trust public meeting at Ditchingham Village Hall. PICTURE: J

MP Peter Aldous at the Save All Hallows Trust public meeting at Ditchingham Village Hall. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

Waveney MP Peter Aldous has hit out at the roll-out of controversial benefits system Universal Credit in Lowestoft.

Universal Credit was introduced in the town in May 2016, and Tory MP Mr Aldous said the "process has not been straightforward".

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate yesterday, chaired by North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham, Mr Aldous said the government had "listened and introduced changes" to the system but that much more needs to be done.

Mr Aldous said: "Many of the most vulnerable in society have been put under enormous pressure and have faced real challenges in getting by day to day."

He said some of the assumptions on which the system was based were "idealistic and could not be implemented in a fair way in the real world".

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Mr Aldous said a number of problems still needed to be fixed including:

- The five-week wait for universal credit, which he said had been found to be "inherently flawed";

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- The transition for those on the severe disability premium;

- The situation for those on zero-hour contracts, who Mr Aldous said were pushed into an "inescapable spiral of debt" due to delays;

- Single payment arrangements meaning domestic violence perpetrators could use the money as a tool for coercive control;

- Feedback for Citizens' Advice.

Mr Adlous said: "I acknowledge that theirs is a difficult task, but I urge them to take on board the further feedback from this debate. For the sake of the vulnerable people who rely on universal credit, we must get it right."

The MP who called the debate, Labour's Ruth George, who represents High Peak in Derbyshire, said that due to Universal Credit "a mum from East Anglia told [her] that she has had to resort to loan sharks, and she almost got involved with a man just so that he could buy some food for her and her daughter".

She added: "Now she has had letters saying that money will be deducted for her debts. She has lost jobs because she could not afford a bus pass and she has friends who resorted to selling their body for food because of their children."

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