Death knell sounded for Universal Credit as Tory MPs rebel


David Gauke 

Rebellion means UK government faces problems voting changes through 

29th September 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Universal credit could be ditched in its current form as 12 Tory MPs yesterday (28 September) rebelled against their government over its roll-out.

Led by Heidi Allen the 12 warned work and pensions secretary David Gauke in a letter not to go ahead with the planned tenfold increase in the roll-out of Universal Credit.

Currently UC is being delivered in managed areas across the UK. Until July it was introduced slowly to five areas a month in a test and learn approach. Then it increased to almost 30 areas a month, and as of October it will be 50 areas.

That is despite continual problems with the new system as charities, campaigners and thousands of claimants complain of delays, problems with the online system and administrative errors.  

Universal Credit was former prime minister David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith's flagship welfare reform which combines six different benefits into a single payment which encourages people back into work.

However the backbench revolt risks wiping out the Tories' majority in the Commons if Labour forces a vote, throwing the whole scheme into question.

Frank Field, the Labour chairman of the House of Commons’ Work and Pensions committee, said the scheme could become another Poll Tax for the Conservatives.

“The idea that there should now be a mega rollout should fill David Gauke and Tory MPs with horror as they see a rerun of the Poll Tax because eight million households are involved," he said. 

“The government needs to agree a Christmas truce because otherwise your newspaper will be filled with stories of people starving over Christmas.

“The advice agencies will be closed. There will be no money coming from Universal Credit.”

However Iain Duncan Smith said on Thursday night the government should go ahead with the acceleration of the roll-out of Universal Credit.

He said: “There is no reason to delay or stop this - the government already has all the mechanisms to resolve it and that is what ‘test and learn’ is about."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said the government is continuing to roll-out Universal Credit in a "safe and controlled" way.