So, Amber Rudd has decided to delay the compulsory switch-over of people already on benefits to Universal Credit – but still plans to have this completed by the already-delayed deadline of 2023. And she claims that she will learn from yet another pilot – although there is little evidence of the government accepting useful lessons from anything they have done so far. Not so much really good news as ‘not so bad in the circumstances’ news: too little too late – though it will be a huge temporary relief for many. Maybe the jobcentres could even stop trying to persuade people to change over to Universal Credit too…
Every time there is major concern about the impact of Universal Credit, the Tories try and do the minimum to make the problem move off the front pages. We need to keep up the pressure so that the serious and major issues with this disastrous system can’t be easily dismissed.
7 January: For clarification – as this announcement, like everything else to do with Universal Credit, has caused a certain amount of confusion.
Everywhere in Scotland, England and Wales is now on Universal Credit Full Service, meaning that all new claims for means-tested benefits, and all claims that involve a significant change of circumstances, must be made in the Universal Credit system. Amber Rudd’s announcement only affects people on the old system whose circumstances have not changed. We had previously been informed that this group would be moved over to Universal Credit (they call it ‘managed migration’ but what they mean is told by letter that they must re-apply within the new system) between July 2019 and 2023. What Amber Rudd has done is delay that start date, except for a guinea-pig group of 10,000 people. Anyone who has watched the history of Universal Credit will know that this is just the latest in a whole catalogue of delays; also that learning from pilots has always been supposed to be integral to the system, but the UK Government has refused to learn the increasingly obvious lessons.
Of course we mustn’t forget that the Government’s measure of success is very different from ours. If your aim is to discipline the working class through a punitive welfare system that makes everyone afraid to do anything that might risk annoying their boss, then Universal Credit will tick your boxes.