Tagged: guinea pigs

Hartlepool MP’s ‘guinea pig’ fears over Universal Credit roll-out

An MP says he fears his constituents are being used as “guinea pigs” for the roll out of the Government’s Universal Credit – described as the biggest change to the welfare state in a lifetime.

Universal Credit combines six out-of-work benefits into one single payment paid monthly, instead of fortnightly payments.

It has already been introduced in  North-West England and will be “rapidly” rolled out to selected job centres in the region from February next year, including those in Hartlepool, Northallerton, Newcastle and York.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said:

“I am worried that many of my constituents will be guinea pigs for this fast roll out.

“Ministers have showed shocking incompetence so far with this project which has been subject to significant delays and cost overruns.

“I will monitor the situation to ensure that the taxpayer gets value for money, while ensuring people in Hartlepool claiming benefits and tax credits don’t face delays.”

The Government says the new system will be simpler and is part of a long-term economic plan to cap welfare and “make work pay”.

But there are concerns it won’t be suitable for everybody – particularly the most vulnerable claimants.

A member of staff at one jobcentre plus in the region said:

“The theory is that as it is paid like a wage, it prepares people for work.

“But the reality is that some people are a long way from being capable of working.

“People with serious addictions being given a month’s money in one go is just setting them up to fail.”

> A statement which, though probably with some truth in it, automatically sets up the idea that all benefit recipients are addicts.

Universal Credit is paid direct into bank accounts and is gradually reduced in line with any earnings a claimant receives.

According to the Department of Work and Pensions households on Universal Credit spend double the amount of time on finding work than they do on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said:

“We’ve already seen remarkable success, with Universal Credit claimants moving into work faster and staying in work longer. As part of our long-term economic plan, people will have the financial security of knowing that if they work more they will earn more.”

 “By Spring next year Universal Credit will be in a third of the country’s Jobcentres as part of the wholesale transformation of the welfare state – providing the country with an economic benefit of £7 billion each year when rolled out.”

The roll out is expected to be completed by spring 2016.

> But we don’t expect it will…

Source –  Northern Echo,  13 Dec 2014