Natalie Williams
Key UC issues remain unresolved in Budget

It was inevitable that the Chancellor would have to make some concessions regarding Universal Credit in today’s Budget. We waited an hour to hear what he would announce about UC, expectant of substantial changes. While we of course welcome a cash injection of £1bn over the next five years to aid the transition, and the £1.7bn for work allowances, this is a disappointing Budget for those of us eagerly hoping for a pause in the roll-out.

For us, this isn’t just an issue of money, but about fixing fundamental flaws with the system. A major issue from a Jubilee+ point of view is pausing UC before managed migration takes place. We hoped this would be announced today and we are disappointed it wasn’t.

The Chancellor said that increasing the work allowance – the amount of money someone can earn before their UC starts to drop – will mean that 2.4m working families with children and people with disabilities are better off by £630 per year. But this only benefits those who are able to work. The Work & Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has already admitted that some of the most vulnerable on Universal Credit might be up to £2,400 per year worse off than they were on legacy benefits.

At churches across the country, we’re hearing stories about how Universal Credit is pushing more people into food poverty and personal debt in particular. We would like to see a pause to the roll-out while significant changes to the system are made to remove its flaws. We are concerned about the details and have already lobbied the DWP to make some specific changes. We hoped to hear about a pause and what would be done to fix the flaws today. We are disappointed we didn’t. We will continue to press the Government on these issues.