As Universal Credit is introduced across Hove, this week MPs had the opportunity to vote on pausing the roll-out until the system’s problems are fixed. Whilst Labour voted overwhelmingly to halt the implementation, the Tories failed to show up to support their own policy, and abstained.
Labour MPs have been hearing from thousands of our constituents who are experiencing real hardship as a result of Universal Credit’s failings. I recently questioned the Secretary of State over worrying reports from the Trussell Trust charity that in areas where Universal Credit has been fully rolled out, demand for emergency food parcels has risen by over 16%.
The new system means that people are expected to wait six weeks before they receive their first payment. Already this leaves vulnerable people in a difficult position. But the reality is in fact far worse – one in four people are waiting for longer than six weeks, and one in ten are left waiting for more than ten weeks. During this time, people are finding themselves forced into debt and rent arrears, and some have even been evicted from their homes.
It is obvious that continuing to roll out universal credit simply means rolling out this misery across the rest of the country, and it must be stopped.
This is the urgent message that Labour MPs sent to the Government this week when we voted in the House of Commons. Sadly, the Tories have chosen not to engage with us, and are ploughing on with the disastrous policy regardless.
We simply cannot go on like this. The Government need to step up, respect the democratic will of Parliament and admit that the roll-out is harming the most vulnerable people in our communities, causing untold misery that is completely avoidable.
Until the Tories wake up and admit they’ve got this wrong, I will be seeking every possible opportunity to help minimise the impact of the roll-out in Hove. I’ve arranged to meet the District Manager of Hove Job Centre to discuss how the implementation is being managed locally, and our local Council are also taking steps to support people throughout the process (if you're affected find help HERE.