The new Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb has given his backing to the Government’s roll out of Universal Credit. In his first speech in the role, Mr Crabb said he is committed to the plan which was started by his predecessor Iain Duncan Smith.
Mr Crabb said: “I am absolutely committed to leading a continued, successful roll out of Universal Credit. That is a priority for me, as is continuing to embed it as the spine that runs through the welfare system.”
Speaking at the Early Intervention Foundation, Mr Crabb also shared his thoughts about the kind of welfare state he believes in and described the welfare system as a people business.
He said: “Welfare that focuses on people also means that we must understand the human impact of decisions we take far better. It means that we talk about the numbers of people receiving benefits or moving on or off of benefits, we also, need to understand at a much deeper level the underlying factors for why those individuals find themselves in a set of circumstances that requires support from the state.”
“A people business does mean providing financial assistance and support to protect people from poverty who, in their current circumstances, cannot provide for themselves. That I think is the mark of a decent society.”
‘Announce U-turn on these cuts’
Mr Crabb’s speech was defined by critics as an opportunity for the Department of Work and Pensions to turn the page on its disastrous period. They also urged him learn from the past and make a U-turn on recent cuts.
Owen Smith, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said: “It’s ironic that the very day before his first major speech, cuts to Universal Credit are introduced that will in time take £1,600 a year from over two million low- and middle-paid working people. If he agrees with Labour that work should pay, then he must announce a U-turn on these cuts without delay.
“The cuts to Employment Support Allowance that will make half a million disabled people over £1,500 a year worse off are just as rotten as the Personal Independence Payment cuts and should also be reversed. The sanctions and disability assessment regimes require a complete overhaul."
Universal Credit crippled by Treasury raids
Gillian Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group said: “Universal Credit, which could have been a worthy tool for the ‘all-out assault on poverty’ that Crabb promises, has been crippled by repeated Treasury raids so that it will now leave people worse off than under the current system and ministers refuse to say what impact it will have on the number of people in poverty.”
Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit for people of working-age who are on a low income and it replaces six existing means-tested benefits. The roll out of the benefit, currently running six years behind has been widely criticised by campaigners who say it undermines it original aim of making work pay.
The latest changes to Universal Credit could leave many families up to £200 worse off a month as a result of reductions to work allowances.
What help is available if you are struggling on a low income?
Read our fact sheet for more information about Universal Credit.
You can also use the free Turn2us Benefits Calculator to check your benefits entitlements. Even if you have checked before, it is worth checking again, especially if there has been a change in your circumstances.
You can also check if you are eligible for a charitable grant or other support by using the Turn2us Grants Search.
You can get further details on all the upcoming benefit changes on the Turn2us Benefits Changes Timetable 2016.
If you are worried about any recent or upcoming benefit changes and would like further advice, you can use the Turn2us Find an Adviser tool to locate face-to-face advice in your local area.
Stephen Crabb Speech - Transforming lives through welfare and work
Labour Party press release - Comment ahead of Stephen Crabb's first speech as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Charity Poverty Action Group (CPAG) press release - Response to Stephen Crabb's first speech as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions