Tuesday 10 May 2016

Government must make Universal Credit work for children

Today, I have called on the Government to reverse their cuts to Universal Credit, as they are set to drive children in to poverty.

I joined Labour calls during a parliamentary debate for the reversal of cuts to the Universal Credit work allowance and a revised impact assessment on the policy in light of huge cuts to its budget.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has projected that relative child poverty will rise from 17.8% in 2015–16 to 25.7% in 2020–2. This would almost entirely reverse the progress which was made under the last Labour Government.

By the time it is fully rolled out 32,000 households across the Wigan borough are expected to be entitled to Universal Credit and across the UK more than 50% of children will be in families who are entitled to UC.

Universal Credit was originally designed to support and reward work and progression, but a recent report by the Resolution Foundation said that, “the latest series of cuts- announced at last year’s Summer Budget – risk leaving UC as little more than a vehicle for rationalising benefit administration and cutting costs to the Exchequer.”

There were two major cuts to in-work support in the 2015 Summer Budget – one for tax credits and one for their replacement, Universal Credit. Only the cuts to tax credits were reversed and the cuts to Universal Credit came into effect on April 11th.

It is now clear that the cuts to Universal Credit have completely undermined its original purpose. By 2020 thousands of working families across the borough will be £1,600 a year worse off and some single parent families will lose as much as £2630 per year. It is no wonder that across the country 600,000 more children are expected to be pushed into poverty.

Lifting over a million children out of poverty was one of the last Labour Government’s most important achievements. It is appalling that this Government look set to reverse that progress. It is not too late for them to think again, to reverse the cuts to make Universal Credit work for children.  I am committed to tackling child poverty and I will continue that fight by opposing cuts to Universal Credit.