Hard-hit Universal Credit claimants need transparency and funding

Hard-hit Universal Credit claimants need transparency and funding

Government must come clean about impact of Universal Credit – and take action.

Published on 5 December 2017

 

-          Government agrees to hand over impact assessments of Universal Credit, but will not publicly release them.

-          Women’s Equality Party calls for funding to ease the burden on single parents looking for work.

-          WE would also scrap new conditions for parents of three- and four-year-olds receiving benefits in absence of properly funded childcare.

 

As the government agrees to hand over five impact assessments of Universal Credit to the Work and Pensions Committee, the Women’s Equality Party calls for the reports to be released to the public – and says additional funding is needed to address the damaging effects of the system on single parents, most of whom are women.

Under Universal Credit, some claimants will begin to lose their benefits after working less than six hours per week at the National Living Wage rate, while the previous system allowed them to work 16 hours per week before payments were withdrawn. [1]

WE are calling for that threshold for single parents to be raised to the equivalent of 15 hours per week on the National Living Wage, at a cost of £1.2bn per year.

WE are also demanding that the Chancellor suspend new requirements for parents of three- and four-year-olds to take active steps towards employment, until the Government has resolved the childcare crisis. [2]

 

Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, said:

“The government must now come clean about the impact of Universal Credit and release these reports to the public.

“But long overdue transparency is not enough. The government already knows that its reforms hit women – especially BAME women – harder than men [3]; the government also knows that single parents, most of whom are women, will lose more than two-parent families. [4]

“It has chosen not to act on these warnings. Women have been targeted by the economic policies of the last seven years and it is women who are bearing 86% of the cost of austerity. [5]

“The chancellor ducked the chance to take the decisive action needed to rebalance our economy to the benefit of everyone in the recent Budget. He should now make a start by easing some of Universal Credit’s most damaging measures for the poorest women.  

“Under Universal Credit, some parents will start to lose their benefits if they work more than six hours per week. But given the UK has the most expensive childcare in the world and providers are buckling under the strain of the government’s recent reforms, these plans will simply push more families into poverty.

“WE are calling on the Government to throw single parents a lifeline by simply allowing them to work up to fifteen hours at the National Living Wage.

“An economy built around men is not an inevitability, but a political choice.”

 

Notes:

[1] Universal Credit’s monthly work allowances (the amount which a claimant can earn before losing money) are set at £192 for those whose Universal Credit payment includes housing payment and £397 for those who do not receive housing support.https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-work-allowances/universal-credit-work-allowances Currently claimants of Job Seeker’s Allowance can work for up to 16 hours per week before having their benefits withdrawn.https://www.gov.uk/jobseekers-allowance/eligibility

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-your-family-quick-guide/universal-credit-further-information-for-families#in-return-for-your-universal-credit

[3] https://wbg.org.uk/news/new-research-shows-universal-credit-failing-just-managing-women-bme-households-hardest-hit/

[4]http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/universal-remedy-ensuring-universal-credit-is-fit-for-purpose/

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/09/women-bearing-86-of-austerity-burden-labour-research-reveals

  
        
  

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