Ministers ‘were aware Universal Credit would leave poor families up to £200 a month worse off’

MINISTERS knew “all along” Universal Credit would lead to cuts of up to £200 a month for some of the poorest families, leading campaigners warned in a growing backlash last night.

MP Frank Field, who chairs the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee, insisted the cuts were “always planned” as the next phase of the flagship benefits rollout continues.

PA:Press Association

MP Frank Field claims that Cabinet ministers were aware that Universal Credit would leave poor families up to £200 a month worse off[/caption]

It followed comments made by Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey who reportedly told Cabinet colleagues around half of single parents and two thirds of working age couples with kids would lose out to the tune of £2,400 a year.

The reduction is expected to come from a loss of tax and child credits as families switch over to the new system which combines up to six benefits into one single payment.

The Birkenhead MP told The Sun: “Every cabinet minister who looks at their constituency post, emails or attends surgeries knows already that people going on to Universal Credit are losing in these amounts.

“It was always planned to be so. When George Osborne lost cutting tax credits he retreated and decided to implement these cuts as people came on to Universal Credit.

The Mega Agency

Influential MP Frank Field chairs the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee[/caption]

“Families on benefits have lost since 2010-11 £40bn in cuts. The frailest shoulders have borne most of the budget deficit reduction strategy “successes”.”

Former Chancellor George Osborne slashed the amount of cash going into UC before he left office.

But the impact of the income drop is yet to be felt as many families are not receiving it yet.

One million people now receive the benefit – with millions more still to move across.


Esther McVey reportedly told Cabinet colleagues that around half of single parents and two thirds of working-age couples with kids would lose £2,400 a year[/caption]

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has previously estimated 2.1 million families will lose while 1.8 million will gain.

But experts warned MPs would be gearing up for a monumental parliamentary battle over future stages of the benefits rollout later this autumn.

Campaigners want more money pushed into Universal Credit as well as rolling out the programme more slowly.

Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation, said: “Rolling out Universal Credit is the government’s single biggest domestic policy challenge.

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George Osborne slashed the amount of cash going into Universal Credit in 2015 before he left office[/caption]

“Delivering it successfully would bring real improvements but was always going to be difficult, involving significant change for millions of benefit claimants.  But it has been made much harder because of the major cuts to benefits that are taking place at the same time.

“It’s very welcome that ministers are discussing in private the risks of this potentially toxic combination. But what we really need to see is action to halt the cuts to the benefits that low and middle income families rely on, many of which are still to come.

“After all, for those families there is not much point telling them that austerity has ended while actively choosing to reduce their living standards.”


THE Universal Credit system IS a good idea – but the roll-out must be done properly.

The Tories’ benefit changes in the last Government, making it more rewarding to be in work, are a big part of the ­reason employment is at a record high. UC is the final part of that puzzle.

But reports that some working families could lose significant amounts of cash overnight are deeply worrying.

Our benefits regime needs to be firm.

But it must also be fair.



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