PCS backs MPs’ call to raise rate of benefits

22 Jun 2020

PCS has backed MPs’ calls to raise the rates of legacy benefits as well as Universal Credit to support people hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

A report by the parliamentary work and pensions committee published today says that rates of older benefits must be raised to provide help for millions of people who have not yet moved to Universal Credit and who are struggling to meet the extra inescapable costs imposed by the coronavirus pandemic,.

The report on the Department for Work and Pensions’ response to the coronavirus outbreak finds that the pandemic has left huge numbers of people struggling to cover the costs of essentials, with some disabled people in particular hit hard by increased costs of care and rising food prices.

While the government has raised the rates of standard Universal Credit and basic Working Tax Credits by £20 a week for 12 months, people on benefits yet to be replaced by UC, including Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Child Tax Credits, have not been similarly helped.

Reform desperately needed

PCS has long been calling for reform of the social security system and the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted just how important an issue this has become.

Before the pandemic, we made it clear that the benefits system wasn't fit for purpose, with too many of the most vulnerable left destitute, especially the disabled.

Universal Credit has been a disaster for claimants and staff. Despite the immense difficulties, DWP staff worked tirelessly to process an unprecedented 3 million claims.

We have also made it clear that rather than bringing them back, the department should consign punitive sanctions to history. The easement of the sanctions regime has been a welcome relief for claimants and it has allowed DWP staff to process claims at a much faster rate.

We are glad that the committee has recognised the hard work of PCS members on the frontline in DWP. Now it's time for the government to recognise it too by giving our members the pay rise they deserve.

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