Pause Universal Credit roll out in Haringey

Universal Credit will be rolled out for some new claimants in Haringey this month, but fresh calls have been made to pause the process. This comes after a leading charity warned that moving more people onto Universal Credit could trigger a significant increase in foodbank use. Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, warned that there was a “growing abundance of proof that Universal Credit will force some families to choose between feeding their children and keeping a roof over their heads.”

New claimants accessing Tottenham and Wood Green Jobcentres in Haringey will be moved onto Universal Credit this month. However, in a report published on Friday (5th October), the Trussell Trust said benefit transitions, likely caused by the roll out of Universal Credit, were accounting for more foodbank referrals. According to the Trust, waiting for the first payment, and the transition to a new system, were pushing more people into poverty.

Last November, the Government reduced waiting times for Universal Credit from six to five weeks. However, in August, the Mayor of London joined calls to pause its roll out, saying that “cuts to funding, IT problems, late payments and a lack of support in navigating the complex claim process has seen significant hardship for many Londoners, pushing some to the brink of homelessness.”

More than 135,000 Londoners are claiming Universal Credit. However, it is expected that funding cuts to Universal Credit will see a £250m a year decrease for claimants in the capital by 2020/21.

Universal Credit combines six benefits, including housing benefit and working tax credits, into one payment. Ms McCartney said that whilst she did not disagree with the principle of simplifying the system, the implementation of Universal Credit isn’t working, and it “risks doing more harm than good”.

Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, said:

“The evidence is stacking up that the Government’s punitive welfare changes are pushing more and more Londoners into the cold grip of destitution. The implementation of Universal Credit clearly isn’t working and it risks doing more harm than good.

“This report is the latest in a growing abundance of proof that Universal Credit will force some families to choose between feeding their children and keeping a roof over their heads. That’s a cruel position to put people in.

“Whilst it’s fantastic we have organisations like the Trussell Trust providing a vital safety net for vulnerable people, they shouldn’t have to exist in the first place. With the Prime Minister finally pledging an end to austerity, pausing the roll out of Universal Credit would be an indication she is serious about actually delivering on that promise.”