Budget 2017: Philip Hammond unveils climbdown on Universal Credit
Philip Hammond has bowed to intense political pressure and announced a U-turn on the Government’s flagship Universal Credit programme.
In his set-piece Budget today, the Chancellor announced the controversial waiting time of six weeks for new claimants to receive their first payment will be reduced by seven days.
The Government had been expected to make an announcement on the controversial policy after fears Tory MPs could rebel in the Commons.
Senior Tories, including former Prime Minister John Major, had joined with opposition parties in recent months to demand a pause in the rollout of the programme.
Mr Hammond told MPs today that the seven day waiting period applied at the beginning of a benefit claim would be removed.
He also said changes would be implemented to make it easier for households to an emergency full month payment within five days of applying.
And the Treasury will extend the repayment period for those advances from six months to 12.
"Universal Credit delivers a modern welfare system, where work always pays and people are supported to earn," Mr Hammond declared in the Commons.
"But I recognise the genuine concerns on both sides of the House about the operational delivery of this benefit. Today we will act on those concerns."
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Universal Credit was "one of the multitude of injustices presided over this government".
"Wouldn’t it have been better to pause the whole thing and look at the problems it has caused?" he asked.
The Citizens Advice Bureau, one of the key organisations campaigning for changes to the Universal Credit system, welcomed the announcements in the Budget.
“These changes should make a significant difference to the millions of people who will be claiming Universal Credit by the time it’s fully implemented," chief executive Gillian Guy said.
"We’ll continue to keep a close eye on the roll-out of Universal Credit and make sure they do."