Universal Credit is to be gradually introduced over the next four years and will replace most of the main in and out of work benefits. DWP Ministers have long claimed that the new benefit will make work pay, yet as details start to emerge about the endlessly complex new system, it seems that for most people this will be anything but the case.
The report produced by the Child Poverty Action Group, along with the TUC, shows that 60% of households will be worse off under Universal Credit when other changes to benefits and tax credits are taken into account. Disabled workers will be one of the hardest hit, taking a possible annual loss of almost £3000 a year.
Even those claimants who find themselves slightly better off when the new benefit is finally launched have already been hit by the Bedroom Tax, Council Tax Benefit reforms and the decisions to cap benefit increases – including housing benefits – at below both inflation and rent rises. This week’s report also points out that despite Universal Credit having officially been launched, admittedly at just one Jobcentre, there is still no clear indication of how ‘passported’ benefits such as free school meals will be managed.
So even a claimant who is able to find work may still find themselves worse off as they are suddenly eligible to pay for school meals, prescriptions and other NHS costs such as dentists. And this could be on top of any losses from the great Council Tax lottery under which some local authorities are demanding that people with virtually nothing be required to pay the same rate of tax as millionaires.
Perversely about the only people who may see a slight increase in income are low paid part time workers in a household where just one adult works. Yet it is precisely this group that Universal Credit also seeks to attack with the ludicrous ‘conditionality’ element of the new benefit. Part time workers will now be required to justify to Jobcentres that they are continually looking for more or better paid work or face vicious benefit sanctions. Non-working parents will be expected to start work, looking for work, or even workfare, when their youngest child turns 5. As soon as children turn 13 parents could be sent on workfare for 35 hours a week, with a possible 90 minute journey there and back. A new generation of latchkey teenagers, abandoned to their own devices from dawn to dusk, will be one very visible result of this Government’s welfare reforms.
Far from ended poverty, one of the most laughable claims made about the introduction of Universal Credit, it will make life far harder for those with least, whether they are in or out of work. And astonishingly the reforms will not even save any money – £2 billion a year in extra spending has been budgeted to manage the new system. Only a true fucking idiot like Iain Duncan Smith could introduce a social security system that makes everyone poorer, including the tax payer.
And only a cynical piece of shit like George Osborne could sanction such huge sums of money being spent on a what is little more than a deluded vanity project for a failed Tory ex-leader. As far as the Treasury is concerned, when it comes to harassing and punishing people just for being poor, then there is an open chequebook. No expense is too great in the attempt to turn working class people into alienated wage or even workfare slaves – constantly fucking each other over for an ever decreasing slice of the pie.
The report can be read at: http://www.tuc.org.uk/tucfiles/586/TUCcpag-report.pdf
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