Tele column 23rd November 2018

Over the years different UK governments of various constructs have attempted to modify and amend the welfare system. The most recent and most ambitious is Universal Credit (UC). Inverclyde has had what is termed ‘full roll out’ since November 2016. But it isn’t finished yet and potentially 6,910 people in Inverclyde still need to be migrated from the old system.

UC was introduced to simplify the benefits system. The roll out has been fraught with complications and there continue to be problems around access to online recording of data, time-lapse in receiving payments and those payments being an accurate reflection of the recipient’s requirements.

Our local Job Centre staff work tirelessly, under very difficult conditions, to support a system that has been massively underfunded. And the UK government’s response is to close Jobcentres across the UK, including Port Glasgow.

Meanwhile welfare spending on poor people dropped by 25% during the decade of austerity, cuts to benefits that disabled people receive were significant. Cuts include, tax credits (£4.6bn), universal credit (£3.6bn), child benefit (£3.4bn), disability benefits (£2.8bn), ESA and incapacity benefit (£2bn) and housing benefit (£2.3bn).

The Trussell Trust tell me that in Inverclyde between 1st April 2018 and 30th September 2018 in Inverclyde, 3,013 three-day emergency food supplies were given to local people in crisis. Across the UK, foodbanks in The Trussell Trust network distributed 658,048 three day emergency food supplies to help people in crisis, a rise of 13% for the same period last year. It is worth noting that the Trussell Trust is a charity, it is not part of the welfare system.

It is time to stop the roll out and fix the system. Anyone for Universal Basic Income?