Universal credit causes £24m rent arrears as working homelessness exceeds 33,000

Rent control now! photo Paul Mattsson

Rent control now! photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Sack the Tories!

Scrap universal credit!

Ellen Kenyon Peers, Lewisham and Southwark Socialist Party

The inept Tory government is yet again in the firing line after further details emerged about the shambolic roll-out of the cruel ‘universal credit’ welfare system.

Meanwhile, of families in temporary accommodation, 33,300 are in work: 55% of the total (see ‘Them & us’).

Renters entitled to the included benefits are now £24 million in arrears due to late payments, unjustified reductions and the deliberately deceptive claims system.

According to new information from horrified call centre workers, the process passes traumatised claimants from one part of the system to the next in an attempt to stop them receiving what they are entitled to.

One brave whistleblower told the Guardian that the system placed the burden on call centre staff to make potentially life-changing decisions about what meagre benefits a caller is entitled to. “It’s me that has to judge whether it’s appropriate to ask a claimant if her third child is the result of sexual assault because it may affect her benefit entitlement.”

Further revelations included requiring claimants to send papers via post despite the system being equipped to process scanned documents.

And the IT system being needlessly complicated for staff to use, directly resulting in late or no payment.

The work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, has failed to resign, despite calls from MPs after she attempted to mislead them over the dire effects of universal credit.

Food banks

It has resulted in more and more desperate people using food banks. The Trussell Trust says the increase is on average 52% in a year in the areas where universal credit hit first, compared to a 13% increase in what were at the time non-universal credit areas.

A report by the National Audit Office shows the Tories have already spent £1.9 billion on the project, and it may never offer ‘value for money’.

This further substantiates what the Socialist Party has argued and working class people have felt all along: this has never been about a ‘good deal’ for the taxpayer, but rather benefitting the rich by undermining the idea that workers are entitled to a welfare safety net.

This scandal is the least of the Tories’ problems right now. Jeremy Corbyn and the union leaders must act – call national protests, build for strikes, and demand a general election.

Sack McVey and the whole Tory government. Create jobs and a welfare system for the future, not one that sends us back to the past!