Tories block Labour bid to reveal government assessment of Universal Credit impact
MPs have rejected a bid by Labour to force the Government to reveal its own assessment of the impact of Universal Credit.
After a heated four-hour debate, they voted by 299 to 279 against the release of the documents, which Labour hoped would reveal the detrimental effect of the welfare shake-up which rolls six existing benefits into a single payment.
Labour used an arcane parliamentary procedure known as a humble address - previously used to force the release of the Government's Brexit impact assessment - to try to compel the publication of analysis of the shake-up on people's incomes.
Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey last week admitted that some people “could be worse off” under the reform, despite Theresa May's claim that would not be the case.
Ms McVey's opposite number, Margaret Greenwood, today called for the Government to publish all reports and analysis it has carried out into the effects of Universal Credit since Ms McVey took office in January.
"The social security system should be there for any of us should we need it, yet the Government’s flagship programme has brought real hardship,” she said.
"How did it come to this in the fifth largest economy in the world that we have people facing hunger and destitution?
"It cannot be right, the Government must wake up, it must open its eyes to what’s happening and that is why we are calling on the Government to stop the roll-out of Universal Credit.”
Ms McVey yesterday confirmed that the "migration" of existing welfare claimants to Universal Credit would be delayed until later in 2019.
Meanwhile the BBC reported that the deadline for full implementation could be pushed back by another nine months to December 2023.
Ms McVey today prompted angry shouts from Labour MPs when she opened her comments by saying: “It’s good to be here again for my department to update the House on Universal Credit for the third time this week.”
She later added: “We will continue with Universal Credit. We will continue to roll it out. We will engage with colleagues across the House… my door is always open, but we will make sure we get this benefit right. You know why? Because of the genuine concerns of the people on our backbenches who want to get it right."
Tory backbencher Heidi Allen, who has been a long-standing critic of the programme, was among those who backed the minister and criticised the motion.
“I just wanted to express the view from the backbenches in terms of the motion today, we believe genuinely that the Secretary of State is listening to what needs to change on Universal Credit, which makes a mockery of the motion today and there is not a single person, myself included, who will vote for it.”