Commons response ‘rules out’ replacing Universal Credit

DWP minister says any replacement system would require a similar level of investment.

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Damned as one of the worst examples of welfare reform “in the history of humankind”, Universal Credit (UC) would require a similar level of investment in any replacement system, a Commons question has confirmed.

DWP minister Will Quince told Tory Jack Brereton UC was a £2bn infrastructure project intended to  deliver £8bn worth of economic growth.

“A whole new benefit system is likely to require a similar level of investment,” said Quince.

In a written Commons question, Brereton had asked whether the DWP had made an estimate of the cost to the public purse of reversing the roll-out of UC and returning to the previous system.

The response is tipped as a hint that Tories won’t be shifting on the roll-out of UC despite a series of high-profile, hard-hitting reports and court actions exposing the system’s structural and operational flaws.

Most recently, the Commons Work and Pensions Committee damned UC as one of the worst examples of welfare reform “in the history of humankind”, with its inherent cruelties and causation of rising destitution.

Quince also confirmed an evaluation of the Citizens Advice ‘Help to Claim’ service that has been running on a pilot basis since April this year.

Independent MP Chris Leslie put a written question over DWP plans to fund the service beyond April 2020.

Help to Claim is pitched as offering “tailored, practical support” to help claimants receiving their first full correct payment on time – available online, on the phone, and face-to-face through local Citizen’s Advice services.

“We have begun evaluation of the service and will use this to inform decisions about the future of the service beyond March 2020,” Quince said.

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