Stephen Hepburn MP: Universal Credit is the new ‘Poor Law’

Universal Credit has been widely criticised.
Universal Credit has been widely criticised.

Mounting anger over the misery inflicted by the Tory Government’s flagship assault on working people, Universal Credit, is entirely justified.

The miserable approach of the Conservatives – that if it’s not hurting families, it’s not working – is an undeclared Tory class war on grafters, low earners, insecure toilers, single parents and the disabled.

What’s astonishing is how these high and mighty wealthy ministers expect gratitude when we force them to admit Universal Credit’s calculated cruelty to people who deserve better.

Take Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, a former City slicker who has enjoyed a privileged start in life, yet shows barely more compassion for those far less fortunate than we saw from her predecessors, who appeared to take a perverse pleasure in making life more difficult instead of easier for others.

Rudd expecting bouquets for recognising that punishing parents with more than two children is harmful to the kids only illustrated how dynastically out of touch the Conservatives remain.

Universal Credit is callous austerity falsely sold as a simplification of the welfare system and the Government slowing the roll out of this horror show is a victory for Labour’s organised opposition, Theresa May and Rudd doing the sums and realising we could defeat them in Parliament on this just as we did over the Tories’ worst of all worlds Brexit.

Stealing payments from parents claiming Tax Credits or Universal Credit for more than two children is a cut of up to £2,780 per child.

The punishment hits children born after a cut off imposed in April 2017 and applying it retrospectively was vengeful.

Tories are frauds when they pose as the party of the family then tell a nurse or a supermarket worker or a secretary that, if they have a third child, planned or not, they’re on their own.

Barely a day goes by without hearing of more and more people being pushed into debt and building up rent arrears, with many people in social and privately rented housing struggling to pay their bills – terrified they’ll end up on the streets.

Respected charities including the Child Poverty Action Group, Trussell Trust and Citizens Advice are rightly highly critical of the Universal Credit disaster.

Forcing folk with little or no savings to wait up to eight weeks for their first payment and unforgivable administrative errors are nightmares.

Calculated official indifference means Universal Credit is the new ‘Poor Law’, a Dickensian stick to beat families wielded by Tories who know little about their lives and care even less.

I believe that people who can work, should work. I believe that a fair day’s work is worth a fair day’s pay.

And I believe the sick and disabled should be looked after.

Universal Credit must be radically reformed or scrapped and replaced with something better because it doesn’t help create the fairer, decent economy for all that Labour’s pledged to build.