Parliament prepares for votes on Universal Credit - as hard hitting report is released

Posted On: 
7th December 2018

Please find Mind’s response to a damming report on Universal Credit.

A powerful committee of Peers has raised serious concerns about new Universal Credit legislation, due to be voted on before Christmas, which could force people into hardship and debt, leaving people to survive the changeover period on ‘less money than they need’. The report drew on evidence from mental health charity Mind, Scope, The Trussell Trust and the Child Poverty Action Group, saying: “The groups that have written to us are experienced in this field and their submissions warn that there will be a significant number of those with health problems or disabilities who will only notice when the money has stopped.”

The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee’s report examined legislation which would allow the Government to move nearly three million people from existing benefits over the next four years. Under current plans, everyone affected will be forced to make a new claim rather than being moved over automatically. Those who cannot manage the process risk being left without income altogether.

The Committee warned that the plans put too much risk on people in vulnerable circumstances and concluded that the legislation was not ready  to reach a vote:

“The large number of unknowns, and the particular difficulty and risks involved in transferring three quarters of a million very vulnerable claimants to Universal Credit, cause concern about the welfare of this group, particularly if, as it currently appears, they are expected to survive the changeover period on less money than they need [..] DWP is initiating these changes but it is the claimant that bears all the risk if their income is interrupted”

“We welcome the Department’s intention to consult representative groups in formulating their arrangements, but consider that those plans should be far more developed before Regulations permitting the full conversion to Universal Credit are put before the House.”

Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at Mind said:

“Today’s hard-hitting report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee adds to mounting concerns about Universal Credit.

“We cannot ignore the potentially devastating impact of the current plans for how people will move over to Universal Credit. It’s unjustifiable to place all the responsibility of moving over to a new benefit on those who may be really unwell. We know the application itself can be a tortuous process, and there is a real risk that many will be left without income and plunged into poverty.

“Despite months of campaigning on this and plenty of evidence on why the regulations need to change, nobody has been able to make a justifiable case for why they can’t be changed, and currently these senseless proposals still stand. It’s not too late for the Government to see sense, or Otherwise we want to see parliamentarians from all parties vote against them. vote against them. Only by fixing the regulations now can we make sure that no-one faces having their benefits cut off before they have moved to Universal Credit.

“There needs to be a welfare system which works for everyone and allows people to live full and independent lives, not one that leaves people destitute. We want everyone to contact their MP and ask them to do the right thing and vote these regulations down if the Government doesn’t amend them, so nobody falls through the cracks, through no fault of their own.”  

You can read Mind’s submission to the committee including the experiences of people with mental health problems who wrote to us to express their concerns here.