UNIVERSAL CREDIT: is it coming in?

"Universal Credit" (UC) is the plan to merge several working-age benefits into one: Jobseeker’s Allowance Employment and Support AllowanceIncome Support Child tax creditWorking tax creditHousing Benefit.

Many of the existing premiums and additions for specific needs would be reduced or cut entirely. In two-parent families, many fathers would get paid all the benefit, instead of mothers getting the Child Tax Credit separately – increasing women and children’s financial dependence and their vulnerability to domestic violence. And UC would leave many of us without money for long periods by the change to monthly payments in arrears instead of fortnightly, and claims can only be made online. But the government has not been able to push it through because of opposition!

So far, UC is being tried out in pilot areas, on single jobseekers with simple claims – 14,000 people are on it. A number of people have been left without money, or have run up rent arrears, not knowing that they have to pay rent from UC. The government’s planned "roll-out" dates are delayed. The Public Accounts Committee of MPs criticised waste of up to £425 million of public money so far. Claimants and some unions, such as PCS, are protesting against it being brought in – contact your nearest anti-cuts or welfare rights community group to find out more and get involved.