#StopandScrap Universal Credit
ECAP is protesting against Universal Credit (or UC) as part of the Britain-wide campaign called by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).
UC is a means-tested benefit for everyone of working age – It will involve an increasingly tougher set of conditions applied to those who are unemployed, and in low paid work.
UC is due to be in operation in Edinburgh Jobcentres by October 2018. Estimated to affect around 7 million UK households, UC is intended to replace child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, and working tax credit. UC is for new claimants and if you’re already on one of these benefits you shouldn’t need to change to UC till later.
With UC we are seeing an increasing move to benefits being managed online making it harder for those who are disabled or lack access to a computer – and of course for us making it harder to resist.
UC will mean no more disability premiums, sanctions for those in part-time work and cuts to child disability payments. No-one on UC is allowed a holiday and hardship loans are repayable. However, UC is a mess with IT failures, unclear rules, understaffing, and under-training.
Once on UC, you stay on UC when moving in and out of work unless you earn over a fixed limit. Although the UK Government claims that UC ‘makes work pay’, if you get extra work you will still lose 63p for every pound earned. Claimants have to wait a minimum of 4-5 weeks for the first payment as UC is paid monthly in arrears.
UC is being introduced in stages – which is taking much longer than originally planned. Currently, more and more areas are coming under the UC Full Service, where all relevant new claims are sent down the UC route, and also have to be done online (unless there is a very strong reason for not using a computer).
UC will apply to those in work
To qualify for Working Tax Credit you have to work over a fixed number of hours a week (30 if you are single with no kids). You get UC however many hours you work (so long as you are not earning above the limit); but if you are earning less than what you would get for your expected minimum number of hours – generally 35 unless you have caring responsibilities or are sick or disabled – you will be under similar pressures to find more or better paid work as people who are unemployed.
This means that low paid part-time workers can be sanctioned too hitting hardest those with care responsibilities or those with disabilities.
The cost of UC has risen to £15.8 billion. Where UC has been rolled out hardship has been the result. East Lothian already has UC Full Service – here we can see that those on UC are far more likely to be in rent arrears and the figures are staggering.
According to a report described in the East Lothian Courier only 30% are in Rent arrears for council housing in the area, while the figure jumps up to 72% for those on UC. The East Lothian Food Bank reports monthly parcels up by 25% with manager Peter Dicker giving changes to benefits and delays in benefits payment as two of the most common reasons for foodbank visits.
UC is an attack on women
Changes will mean women are more dependent on men impacting survivors of domestic violence. Women will only be able to claim Child Tax Credits for a 3rd child if they can prove they were raped and will be required to explain the details of their rape to the DWP through a third party who will essentially be judging whether rape took place or not. Tory MSP Ruth Davidson defends this policy which has been criticized by The Royal College of Nursing Scotland who said they “do not believe it is appropriate for a nurse or a midwife to arbitrate if a woman’s claim is consistent with rape”. Until November 2018, larger families will claim on the old Tax Credit system.
We need to support each other
You can be accompanied at all benefits appointments. So let’s organise to make oppressive measures like Universal Credit unworkable.
ECAP doesn’t argue that UC should be reformed. UC needs to be scrapped!!!
More UC info at Scottish Unemployed Workers Network
Contact ECAP at: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter & Facebook
Drop-in support Tuesdays 12 to 3 pm at ACE, 17 West Montgomery Place, EH7 5HA