Amber Rudd has told single mums she will make Universal Credit work better for them as part of her wider review of the controversial welfare system.
Rudd said she was going to specifically examine the impact of Universal Credit on women and single mums, amid concerns the scheme was making hundreds of thousands of single parents worse off – admitting that despite being a “force for good”, it currently has “real problems”.
While visiting a job centre in south London, Rudd promised more help for women, “particularly single mothers,” who have been hit hard by the rollout of Universal Credit.
Rudd said: “I’m going to specifically look at how Universal Credit impacts women – I’m going to make sure that if we need to make changes to support them then we will.
“I had a conversation with the chief secretary [to the Treasury] this morning who also is also concerned about making sure that as a government we support women and I’m going to make sure that that Universal Credit actually does that.”
Recent research by the Resolution Foundation think tank found Universal Credit was leaving many women and single mums severely worse off – sometimes by thousands of pounds. The think tank also found that women in abusive relationships are also at increased risk due to partners cutting off their access to the cash provided by Universal credit.
Rudd said she wanted to ensure “women are protected” and have access to split payments in such situations. She also said she was going to review the five-week wait time for new claimants to receive their benefits; and payment systems for the housing element of Universal Credit; access to cash and the repayment of upfront loans, saying: “We need to give [claimants] more confidence in the fact that they can access cash immediately.”
Rudd also said she would seek parliamentary backing to rollout the Universal Credit, despite a report released this week by MPs on the work and pensions select committee demanding that voting be postponed until the system is improved for claimants.
Chancellor Philip Hammond recently made two significant concessions on Universal Credit – namely delaying the rollout of the scheme by until the end of 2023, and the injection of a further £1.7bn into “work allowances” to help boost low-paid workers’ income.
Universal Credit, which is running five years behind schedule, is seen as the most significant welfare reform in decades. Yet, many claimants have been falling into financial difficulty as they move from the old system to the new one.