Today the government introduced changes that were announced in the 2016 Autumn budget to the Universal Credit system, which is an all-in-one lump benefit that is replacing Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working tax credit, Child tax credit and Housing Benefit.
The DWP has stated that these changes will benefit 3 million households, when in reality they are hiding the bigger picture. The existing Tory cuts made in 2015, means that people won’t always ‘keep more of every pound.’
The DWP have claimed the changes will benefit 3 million households, but in reality will not. The government has proposed that their changes will simplify the process of Universal Credit, when in reality has created a rather complex mess. A new law has changed the ‘taper rate’, meaning that workers will lose 2p less off every pound that they earn. Whilst this tiny change could be beneficial, it is clear to see that in reality, these pre-existing Tory cuts mean the numbers will not be what the DWP are making them out to be, and working families will suffer. With housing costs the annual decrease will be £855, without housing costs the annual decrease will be an enormous £4,048, and for non-disabled, childless claimants, there is now no threshold at all, meaning an annual loss of the previous £1,330
The House of Commons Library have done some fantastic research into how families could be affected. This is one of their figures which shows six example families, and how the Universal Credit changes could see five them worse off, through losing child-tax credits, and being affected by working allowances. The predicted losses are estimated between £2,780 and £6,198. You can find out more about their research here
These figures are unacceptable. When will the government actually remember what they have done in the past? We have already seen a recent manifesto breach, perhaps there needs to be a meeting where the government all sit down, and have a re-cap of what they actually did over the past few years.
I think it is important to mention that even if these cuts do not affect you directly right now, to remember that life is unpredictable. People lose work, people fall unexpectedly pregnant, people can lose their homes and people can become disabled. It is important that we remember that those who are affected by this austerity often have not chosen their circumstance, and are being punished for it. Labour are working to push the government to reverse these existing benefit cuts, to ensure that millions of working families are not penalised.