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Thursday, 22 November 2018

MPs voice fresh concerns on roll-out of Universal Credit welfare reforms

Written by Shaun Connolly

Fresh concerns about the roll-out of controversial Universal Credit (UC) welfare reforms have been voiced by MPs.

The Commons Work and Pensions Committee said readiness tests must be set before the next pilot phase of the "managed migration" of transferring existing benefits claimants onto UC begins.

The report said that "major areas of concern" about the welfare reform remain despite recent Government changes.

MPs want the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) and Parliament to be able to asses the Government's plans before they move forward.

The report tells the Government to change tack, stating: "It must commit to setting the tests it will meet before the pilot begins.

"The tests, and an analysis of whether they have been met, should be published before managed migration moves to scale in 2020."

The committee has urged ministers to delay parliamentary votes on new regulations that will set the procedures for moving claimants onto UC until MPs and the SSAC have time to assess them.

The report also calls for the elimination of the five week wait for the first UC payment for claimants who are involved in "managed migration".

And the study urges an extension of "run-on" payments to all the benefits that UC will replace, not just housing benefit, jobseeker's allowance, and employment and support allowance.

Committee chairman, and former minister, Frank Field (pictured) said: "The committee's main proposals seek to ensure that the risk of moving claimants from the old system of benefits onto Universal Credit lies with the Government and not on the shoulders of poorer people.

"The Government is thankfully making and then remaking its policy on how best to transfer existing claimants onto Universal Credit.

"It would be a pity if the Government undermined this new way of thinking by not giving Parliament and SSAC enough time to comment on its latest changes before it pushes Parliament into a vote."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "As we've said before, these regulations were open for comment on our website for several months, and over 400 stakeholders offered their views.

"During this time the Work and Pensions Select Committee did not submit any feedback.

"These regulations are designed to support people on to Universal Credit.

"They protect 500,000 severely disabled claimants and provide transitional protection for all those moving to Universal Credit, meaning that no one loses a penny at the point of transfer.

"Delaying these regulations would leave people on a punitive legacy benefits system that disincentives work and fails to pay people the benefits they are due - costing 700,000 families an average of £285 each and every month."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Anthony Devlin / PA Wire.