Rugby TUSC challenges local MP on Universal credit after National Audit Office slams it
WE TOLD YOU SO! NOW WE WAIT FOR MARK PAWSEY’S REACTION TO NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE REPORT
Last Friday, June 15th, the official independent watchdog for government spending, the National Audit Office, declared that Universal Credit had been a failure. Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which has been campaigning for Universal Credit to be scrapped ever since its inception in 2013, is delighted. “We know from first hand experience that Universal Credit has caused untold suffering locally ever since Rugby began to pilot the new benefit five years ago. We have continuous examples of it being used to reduce benefits, forcing more and more Rugby people into food and fuel poverty, leading to rent arrears and evictions,” Rugby TUSC spokesperson Pete McLaren reminded us today
“At long, long last the establishment can confirm everything we have been saying. The National Audit Office
is an independent Parliamentary body in the United Kingdom which is responsible for auditing central government departments, government agencies and non-departmental public bodies Its reports are considered to be neutral and cautious.
“The main findings of the National Audit Office are that Universal Credit
Instead of saving money, has cost taxpayers even more than the previous benefits system.
Is not getting more people into work.
Has led to hundreds of thousands of claimants having to wait weeks or months for benefit payments.
The National Audit report concludes that the numbers forced to use food banks have increased wherever Universal Credit is being rolled out, as we have previously reported in Rugby.
“Rugby TUSC has outlined its concerns about Universal Credit to local Tory MP Mark Pawsey on a number of occasions, and we have taken individual cases to him of the hardship caused by it. However, Mark has consistently refused to accept that his Government’s flagship welfare reform should be ditched. He toes the party line as dictated by Tory central office. He must now think again, and, when Rugby TUSC meets later this week, we will discuss sending a delegation to his next surgery to put the case for abandoning Universal Credit even more forcibly. Meeting Mark Pawsey face-to-face gives us the chance to persuade him to call for it to be replaced. What does he think about the suffering of a number of his constituents?
“Ironically, on the very day the National Audit Office announced its findings last Friday, Rugby TUSC had a scheduled session outside Rugby Job Centre talking to Universal Credit claimants about their experiences and offer what support we can. Three individual cases we encountered last Friday vividly illustrate what is wrong with Universal Credit and why Mark Pawsey must demand it is overturned, not reformed.
A man in his 50’s, with blindness caused by a brain disorder, with sick notes from his doctor since November, had been receiving £691 per month whilst on Income Support. He was moved onto Universal Credit and now has to live on just £291 a month. Why? Because the DWP do not employ expensive medical professionals, or doctors, to make the health assessments. A physiotherapist not a blind/brain specialist saw this person, and they ruled against his doctor.
A woman in her 50s with osteoporosis of the spine. She has been made to attend the Job Centre once a week despite severe back pain if she walks more than a few hundred yards. She will lose her Universal Credit if she does not attend. She has doctors’ sick notes for 12 months, and clearly cannot work at present, so why are they forcing her to attend the Job Centre weekly?
A man in his early 60s with early onset dementia, whose wife also suffers from dementia. He had to wait 2 months for his first Universal Credit payment, and he only coped by getting financial help from his 35-year-old son, another example of parents becoming dependent on their adult children because of Universal Credit payment delays. Rugby Job Centre refused to give him a letter for his dentist to avoid having to pay for treatment. He had lost his initial paper confirmation of Universal Credit. They said all the information he needed was on his file on line. The problem is that he has not got a smart phone and is not on the internet so he cannot show anything to the dentist.
“The suffering Universal Credit has caused has been well documented by Rugby TUSC, and, at long last, the authorities agree with us. As Rugby was one of six pilot areas it has more people on Universal Credit than elsewhere, and thus more people who get into debt, use food banks and/or cannot pay their rent as a result of being moved onto it. The whole point of introducing Universal Credit was to save money – it is part of the Tories austerity measures. Even that has not worked. But it is the human suffering that concerns us more, as the cases we discovered on Friday continue to prove, whether it be delays in receiving any payment, unavailability of internet access, erroneous medical assessments by non-professionals or sheer draconian old-fashioned intolerance of people’s medical problems.
“We will have many questions to ask Mark Pawsey when we see him, and we won’t be satisfied until he accepts that Universal Credit is fatally flawed and has to be replaced by a much fairer and accessible system of paying welfare benefits. We will inform the media when we have a time and date for such a meeting,” Pete McLaren concluded
Rugby was chosen as one of six pilot areas in 2013 – the others are Hammersmith, Inverness, Bath, Harrogate and Shotton
Rugby TUSC can be contacted at: www.rugbytusc.com; on 07881 520626; RugbyTUSC@gmail.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; or PO Box 4123, Ru