PCS has reiterated calls for the government’s disastrous Universal Credit system to be stopped and suspended immediately after DWP minister David Gauke confirmed its rollout would go ahead despite Tory MPs' call for delay.
In a speech to the Tory party conference in Manchester today, the work and pensions secretary praised the controversial system which is attempting to deliver an unprecedented change in the benefits system effectively replacing nearly all working age benefits with a single benefit, which will incorporate work currently delivered by local authorities, HMRC and DWP.
PCS believes that Tory welfare policies are aimed at removing the social security safety net. Poverty is built into the UC system with delays of 6 weeks for initial payments and often far beyond. It is unacceptable that our members will have to deliver an untested and failing system to some of the most vulnerable people in society. The DWP is simply not ready to deliver the rollout of UC Full Service in 50 Jobcentres a month.
We have consistently raised issues of staffing levels and delays in payments with DWP. One of the tragedies of this situation is that public servants determined to help people into work will have the rug pulled from under their feet as claimants struggle to manage debt instead of seeking employment
PCS General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, said in response to the speech: “Universal Credit remains a disaster because it is driven by the Tories’ political choice to cut public spending and to denigrate people who rely on social security support.
“The misery being inflicted by the government’s mishandling of this disastrous programme must be stopped and the full roll-out should be suspended immediately.”
Mark called for a review of the entire project – “from its impact on claimants to systemic failings, IT problems and pressures on staff – a review is needed before any decision is made as to whether it is fit to continue.”
He added: “The government’s arrogant refusal to listen to its own staff, experts, charities, those affected and even its own MPs shows their aim is not to help people but to cynically cut support from those who need it most.
“Cuts to DWP staff and resources must be reversed to give the department the means to develop a system that offers genuine help.”