Jubilee+ Team
An open letter to Amber Rudd MP

Jubilee+ today met with Work & Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd MP and presented her with an open letter thanking her for the reforms she has made to Universal Credit thus far, but strongly urging her to do more.

In the letter Natalie Williams reaffirmed our belief that Universal Credit is 'a good concept and is working for the majority', but pointed out the 'that for some (often the most vulnerable) some aspects of Universal Credit are making their situations harder and actually pushing them deeper into poverty'.

After praising the positive steps Ms Rudd has taken, the letter then moved on to our concerns:

  • The change in tone around poverty in the UK;
  • The dismissal of the Trussell Trust foodbank network’s annual statistics; and
  • The money and energy invested by the DWP in the recent newspaper advertorials lauding Universal Credit.
The letter proposes a series of reforms to Universal Credit to ensure that no one is pushed further into poverty. These reforms include:

  • Reducing the five-week wait and not relying on advances (effectively loans) to tide people over during this period, acknowledging that the five-week wait is not just a financial issue but is a cause of concern for charities focusing on debt, food poverty, mental health, disability, housing and more;
  • If there is a compelling logistical reason why the five-week wait cannot be reduced, then converting advances to grants that do not need to be paid back or making them akin to student loans where they are only repaid when income reaches a certain level, would go some way to limiting the impact of the five-week wait;
  • Listening to the evidence around poverty and focusing specifically on the 10% of people hit hardest by Universal Credit, rather than on those for whom it is working well – this would include acknowledging that much of the evidence in the UN special rapporteur’s report and the recent report by Human Rights Watch is accurate (even based on the government’s own statistics, such as the HBAI figures) and that now is the time to focus on solutions rather than disputing the facts;
  • Meaningfully engaging with charities such as ours, so that we can work with you on developing solutions to some of the remaining issues with Universal Credit, and focus on building confidence in UC through fixing the issues rather than advertising campaigns;
  • Balancing the positive data around employment statistics with the disheartening statistics about in-work poverty, and then focusing on policy change that ensures work genuinely is an effective route out of poverty.
The letter concludes:

"We hope that your legacy in this role will be to create a compassionate, fair and kind system that lifts many thousands of people out of poverty and doesn’t leave anyone – in work or not in work – behind."

You can read the full text of the letter here.

How to pray:
  • Thank God for a positive relationship with Ms Rudd thus far, for her willingness to meet with critical friends and the opportunities God has given to us.
  • Pray that Ms Rudd would listen to our concerns, and those of many other charities working with the poorest in their communities, that she would have both the compassion and the courage to take the bold steps necessary to reverse the most harmful aspects of Universal Credit.
  • Pray that we as a nation would have God's heart for those in need among us, and would become a beacon of justice and care that the world can look upon with approval, not approbation.