MPs blast credit roll-out

MPs from the borough have delivered a scathing verdict on the controversial Universal Credit after a national report criticised the roll-out.

Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 11:11 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 3:39 pm
MPs Lisa Nandy and Yvonne Fovargue

Wigan parliamentary representative Lisa Nandy and her colleague in the House of Commons for Makerfield Yvonne Fovargue both slammed the benefits reform.

Other news: Self-harming on the increase among Wigan youngstersMs Nandy said constituents in Wigan had faced huge difficulties with the process of combining a number of different benefits payments into one streamlined package.

She spoke of delayed or incorrect payments forcing Wiganers into hardship and both she and Ms Fovargue said the change was also proving a waste of money for the taxpayer.

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They spoke out after serious criticisms of Universal Credit (UC) were made by the National Audit Office (NAO), which said it was hugely expensive, didn’t work properly and was creating unnecessary financial hardship for people.

Ms Nandy said: “For the thousands of constituents who have experienced the endless delays, inaccessibility and human misery caused by the shambolic roll out of Universal Credit, the NAO’s findings that the system is failing millions across the country will come as no surprise.

“Every day I speak with families who are struggling to make ends meet because of delayed or incorrect payments, while the new assessment process is costing taxpayers four times the amount of the benefit system it’s designed to replace.

“Since the roll-out of the Universal Credit pilot scheme in Wigan two years ago, the Government has repeatedly failed to listen to our concerns, and ignored calls to pause and fix this obviously broken system.

“This new report must be a wake-up call for the Government to now take those concerns seriously and address the problems that are causing such misery in people’s lives.”

Ms Fovargue also slammed ministers for refusing to listen to critics during the long process of implementing Universal Credit.

She said: “It is no surprise to read the failings identified by the spending watchdog.

“The Government has spent nearly eight long years on this major change to the social security system and yet it still isn’t working for far too many people who needit.

“Wait times and problems with payment of the benefit are too long leading to people falling into arrears with bills and spiralling into debt, staff administering the scheme have faced change after change and the truth is that the Government have failed miserably in the roll-out of Universal Credit.

“The taxpayer is also being short changed with UC currently costing £699 per claim - four times as much as the government intended to spend and the Audit Office state that Government expectation that UC would deliver £2bn of savings from fraud and error could not be substantiated.”

The NAO said around one in four new claims last year was not paid in full and on time, with some people waiting up to five months for their money.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee chair Frank Field described UC as a “shambles, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake”.

But the DWP said satisfaction with the system had not gone down and would not accept people were facing hardship.