Gordon Brown warns of 'poll tax-style chaos' if Universal Credit not halted

Posted On: 
10th October 2018

There will be riots on the streets of Britain if the Government continues to roll out its controversial Universal Credit benefits system, former prime minister Gordon Brown is set to warn.

Former PM Gordon Brown will make a speech in Edinburgh today
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour grandee will predict “a return to poll tax-style chaos in a summer of discontent” unless Theresa May changes course on extending the stuttering new regime.

The Universal Credit system - which combines six benefits into one - is set for a full national rollout next year after countless setbacks and warnings of claimants being plunged into dire straits.

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Last week it was reported that Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey told colleagues millions of families could lose up to £200 a month after switching.

Mr Brown will become the latest public figure to sound the alarm when he takes aim at the government rollout in a fierce speech in Edinburgh today - blasting the system as well as the billions of pounds it has faced in cuts.

He will say: “Surely the greatest burning injustice of all is children having to go to school ill-clad and hungry. It is the poverty of the innocent – of children too young to know they are not to blame.

“But the Conservative government lit the torch of this burning injustice and they continue to fan the flames with their £3bn of cuts. A return to poll tax-style chaos in a summer of discontent lies ahead.”

The poll tax sparked widespread rioting when it was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1990, and contributed to her downfall a year later.

Mr Brown will add: “Because almost £3bn has been cut from its budget, Universal Credit does not achieve its objectives.

“It was advertised as making work pay and empowering those on low incomes but in fact two-thirds of poor children are now in families where someone is working.”

On Sunday Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell all-but committed Labour to scrapping the Universal Credit system if it wins power at the next election.

But Tory chair Brandon Lewis said: "The reason we think Universal Credit is the right way to go is that it does get more people into work, it ensures that work pays and it’s fair for the taxpayer."