The benefits system is “failing millions of people” and major changes must be made to protect society’s most vulnerable, according to a searing Lords’ report on Universal Credit.
The Economic Affairs Committee blamed the scheme for soaring rent arrears and the use of foodbanks, and said the temporary increase in payments during the Covid-19 crisis proved that the standard rate was too low – calling for the increase to be made permanent.
The peers pointed to the five-week wait claimants face before receiving their first Universal Credit as the main factor pushing people into deep poverty, entrenching debt and harming women and disabled people disproportionately. Echoing repeated calls from campaigners since the scheme was introduced, the committee wants a non-repayable grant to be given to everyone while they wait to start receiving Universal Credit.
The system was introduced in 2010 with a view to condensing six benefit payments into one, and has been blasted by anti-poverty campaigners ever since for pushing people deeper into hardship.
Today @LordsEconCom releases its comprehensive report on Universal Credit, highlighting the scale of the reforms needed.
Now more than ever we need social security systems to be a lifeline to our families in these turbulent times.https://t.co/EgyJtzqHo6
— Joseph Rowntree Fdn. (@jrf_uk) July 31, 2020
Committee chair Lord Forsyth of Drumlean said: “Most people, including our committee, broadly agree with the original aims and objectives of Universal Credit. However, in its current form it fails to provide a dependable safety net. It has led to an unprecedented number of people relying on foodbanks and not being able to pay their rent.