Once.. twice… three times an answer…

Will Quince hits ‘repeat’ when responding to written Commons questions on Universal Credit.

Westminster in London next to the Thames

On Universal Credit, DWP minister Will ‘Squishy’ Quince has the answer.

Just the one, mind.

Asked in a written Commons question from Labour’s Stephen Timms about what plans the DWP has to reduce the level of universal credit deductions for claimants with court fines, Squishy says: “The Department’s deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their financial obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs.

“Deductions for court fines are based on rates provided in legislation.

“Since October 2019, Universal Credit deductions are a maximum of 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance down from 40% previously.

“We recognise the importance of safeguarding the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt, so last resort deductions can be applied to protect vulnerable claimants from eviction and/or having their fuel supply disconnected, by providing a repayment method for arrears of these essential services.

“The Department engages a range of stakeholders, including welfare rights organisations, to ensure we understand the effect Universal Credit has, which helps us to design improvements.

“In addition, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues, including the Secretary of State for Justice, on a range of economic and social issues.”

Not exactly illuminating, but…

Timms wants light thrown on what assessment DWP has made of the effect of Universal Credit deductions on the cost of living and health and wellbeing of former rough sleepers.

Squishy says: “The Department’s deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their financial obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs.

“Deductions for court fines are based on rates provided in legislation.

“Since October 2019, Universal Credit deductions are a maximum of 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance down from 40% previously.

“We recognise the importance of safeguarding the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt, so last resort deductions can be applied to protect vulnerable claimants from eviction and/or having their fuel supply disconnected, by providing a repayment method for arrears of these essential services.

“The Department engages a range of stakeholders, including welfare rights organisations, to ensure we understand the effect Universal Credit has, which helps us to design improvements.

“In addition, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues, including the Secretary of State for Justice, on a range of economic and social issues.”

Spot the difference?

Clue: There isn’t one.

Timms tries to tease out of Squishy what talks his boss ‘clever’ Therese Coffey has had with the Secretary of State for Justice on the rate of Universal Credit deductions for claimants with court fines.

Squishy says: “The Department’s deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their financial obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs.

“Deductions for court fines are based on rates provided in legislation. Since October 2019, Universal Credit deductions are a maximum of 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance down from 40% previously.

“We recognise the importance of safeguarding the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt, so last resort deductions can be applied to protect vulnerable claimants from eviction and/or having their fuel supply disconnected, by providing a repayment method for arrears of these essential services.

“The Department engages a range of stakeholders, including welfare rights organisations, to ensure we understand the effect Universal Credit has, which helps us to design improvements.

“In addition, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues, including the Secretary of State for Justice, on a range of economic and social issues.” 

For the record, it’s Squishy’s oppo Justin Tomlinson that’s branded flippant…

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