100 signatures reached
To: Open letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
We demand for a halt in the roll-out of Universal Credit
We believe that the roll-out of Universal Credit should be stopped. Please sign the below petition to stand against the government and provide solidarity to those affected.
Why is this important?
We the undersigned wish to express our profound disquiet at the roll-out of digital Universal Credit (UC). The Government’s plans will continue to replace all means-tested social security benefits and tax credits for those of working age, across Greater Manchester and beyond. We believe that we should not stand for such wilful ignorance of the impacts of the new system. We urge individuals, groups, organisations, MPs, councillors, landlords and housing associations to stand in solidarity against the Universal Credit roll-out.
Signed and shared by: Greater Manchester Law Centre, GM Poverty Action, Big Issue North, Salford Mayor Paul Dennett, Salford Council Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Team, Salford Star, People's Plan GM, Coffee 4 Craig, St Mungo's Unite, Kill the Housing Bill, Cllr Gary Bridges, Cllr Bev Craig, Cllr Basat Sheik, Cllr Richard Leese, Council Labour Group, Manchester Shield, Withington Lib Dems.
As this catastrophe unfolds the shortcomings and blind spots of UC have increasingly become clear. The following are the six issues, faced by individuals and families, which concern us most:
1. People are experiencing waits of six to twelve weeks (sometimes longer) for their first payment of Universal Credit. Consequently, people are spiraling into debt and rent arrears which they may find it impossible to recover from.
2. Universal Credit claims can only be processed online through a system called verify which cannot be completed without requisite ID or computer access. Some of the most vulnerable people, such as those who are disabled, precariously housed, homeless or non-UK citizens, find it extremely difficult to claim. This both lengthens the waiting period for first payments and makes it difficult for individuals to maintain their claims, putting them at risk of sanctions.
3. Sanctions are being applied erratically and arbitrarily in relation to UC. There is mounting evidence highlighting unfair use of sanctions, for example individuals have received them for being at work and missing their work focused interview. Full service roll-out will also bring housing benefit into the realm of sanctions, directly increasing the risk of evictions and homelessness.
4. Under UC many will see a reduction in their financial entitlement and will be living off substantially less money. In some cases individuals will be around £100-£300 less well off per month than on previous legacy benefits like Employment and Support Allowance and Severe Disability Premium . Disabled people and those with debilitating heath conditions will be pushed further into poverty as a result.
5. Young People aged 18-25 will be disproportionately affected by UC, . For example, those aged between 18-21 will not be entitled to housing benefit under UC unless in an exempt category. The exemptions will not cover thousands of at risk young people, resulting in mounting debt and homelessness.
6. Evidence suggests that UC is pushing more children and families into poverty. Unjust elements of UC like the two child limit do not support working or non-working families. Direct links to welfare reform, specifically UC are causing professionals to highlight the risk of more children going into care and families becoming homeless.
We call on the Government to halt the roll-out while all of the problems are reviewed, to avoid creating unnecessary suffering. Universal Credit, if rolled out in its current form, is a Universal Catastrophe that will place an unsustainable burden on the finances of local authorities, charitable organisations and support services who will ultimately be left to pick up the pieces.