Natalie Williams
Jubilee+ response to changes to UC

Over the last couple of years, Jubilee+ has been campaigning to see Universal Credit changed. We’ve added our voice to the growing consensus among poverty-fighting charities that while the concept of Universal Credit may be good, its implementation is causing deeper poverty, greater hardship, and real misery.

Churches across the country have been picking up the pieces of a system that has been failing not only the most vulnerable, but also those in low income or unstable work who are trying to make ends meet.

So we welcome the changes announced to Universal Credit by Work & Pensions Secretary Esther McVey yesterday. They will go some way to relieving what we’re seeing on the ground at churches running foodbanks, debt centres, night shelters, soup kitchens, and so on.

However, many of these amendments won’t take place until next year, the year after that, or even the year after that. What about those new claimants going onto UC now and those who are already on it? We have real concerns for the welfare of claimants already navigating its complexities, as well as those moving on to this new system. We’re especially worried about the impact of UC on people this winter, as the temperature begins to drop and Christmas approaches.

There are still inherent flaws in the system, such as the slow pace at which mistakes made by the Job Centre can be corrected, and the fact that these changes are designed to help those going onto UC as part of managed migration, but won’t help those who naturally go onto UC due to a change in their circumstances.

It’s a good thing that the number of people coming across to UC in 2019 has been reduced, but we would like to see these systemic issues addressed before managed migration takes place at all. That’s why we’re still calling for a pause in Universal Credit – our preference would be that no one else goes onto it until it is fixed.