Universal Credit roll-out delayed again after outcry from senior Tories
The roll-out of the Government’s troubled welfare policy, Universal Credit, has been delayed once again after a barrage of criticism from influential Tory MPs.
According to the BBC, ministers have paused the country-wide implementation of the flagship reform amid reports of claimants suffering financial difficulties.
Leaked documents reportedly reveal that millions have already been spent trying to prevent any adverse effects of the new scheme, but that following recent rows further action will now be taken.
The controversial welfare programme should have been fully operational in April last year, but has been paused a number of times due to problems during the roll-out, which is now set for completion by December 2023.
In recent weeks senior Conservative figures have intervened to criticise the policy, with its architect and former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith saying it requires £2-3bn in extra funding to make it work.
This follows a warning from ex-Prime Minister John Major that the programme in its current form could be as politically damaging as the poll tax was in the early 1990s.
And Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey further enflamed the debate last week by revealing that some claimants would be “worse off” under the changes, despite Theresa May’s assurances to the contrary.
Following the controversy, ministers will now take further measures to insulate new claimants from financial hardship, by continuing to pay out other benefits during the transition and providing other forms of support.
However, the Government admits there could still be problems with the plans in the documents seen by the BBC.
The document states: "We can currently offer no assurance that ultimately these proposals will prove to be deliverable, can survive legal challenges where they can be delivered, and do not invite new political criticism by generating new policy issues."
A spokesman for the Department Work and Pensions said in a statement: "We will publish full plans for the next stage of Universal Credit rollout, including managed migration, in due course.
“Anything before that point is speculation and we do not comment on leaks."