Updated 23 October 2017.
Churches and Christian organisations are campaigning to change Universal Credit, the UK government’s replacement for a number of welfare benefits including housing benefit, income support and child tax credits.
Universal Credit is being introduced in stages across the UK.
The UK government was defeated on 18 October 2017 as the House of Commons passed a vote, by 299 to 0, to pause the rollout of universal credit. However, the motion brought by the Labour Party was non-binding.
It has been announced that charges to use the Universal Credit helpline will be scrapped.
Archbishop of York
Writing in the Sunday Times on 22 October 2017, the Church of England’s Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, criticised the minimum wait of 42 days before claimants receive Universal Credit. He described the assumption that everyone has a nest egg to tide them over as ‘grotesquely ignorant, for millions of people, especially those in need of support, are already in debt and have nothing to fall back on.’
Read the full letter on the Archbishop of York’s website.
Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) briefing
JPIT sent a briefing on Universal Credit to every MP ahead of the debate in Parliament on 18 October 2017. The briefing outlines some of the key problems of the new benefit system but JPIT says ‘the central message is simple: Universal Credit’s processes suit the lives of the relatively well-off, the people who designed it, but fails to take into account the lives of real people struggling against poverty’.
Find out more and download the JPIT briefing on Universal Credit.
Charity heads write letter to Sunday Times
Heads of 12 charities, including Church Action on Poverty, wrote a joint letter to the Sunday Times proposing three policies for November’s budget that would help the poor. These included restoring the universal credit work allowances (the wage level of earnings above which universal credit starts to be withdrawn) and fixing the universal credit six-week wait.
Find out and read the letter on the Church Action on Poverty website.
Food banks facing Universal Credit crisis
End Hunger UK campaign, which includes Church Action on Poverty as a member, says that food banks won’t be able to cope with everyone impacted by the roll out of Universal Credit. ‘If the problems aren’t fixed before further roll-out, then food banks won’t be able to catch everyone who falls’, commented Garry Lemon, the Trussell Trust’s Head of Media and External Affairs.
Read the full story on the End Hunger UK website.