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19th October 2017 - Islwyn MP backs fight to pause 'Shambolic Universal Credit

Islwyn MP backs fight to pause 'shambolic Universal CreditThe Member of Parliament for Islwyn, Chris Evans, voted on Wednesday to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit, in a significant defeat for the Government.

The motion - which was put forward by the Labour Party – saw 299 MPs across different parties vote to pause the Universal Credit programme in order to address a wide range of issues with the system. The Conservatives and the DUP abstained on the vote, making it a symbolic defeat of a flagship Government policy. However, as it was an Opposition Day Motion the vote is not binding.

Universal Credit has already been rolled out in over 50 local authorities, with the Government aiming for its complete roll out across the country by September 2018. Criticism of the programme has been mounting, with claimants complaining of long wait times and the high risk of falling into debt whilst waiting for their payment to come through.

Data from the Department for Work and Pensions shows that one in four claimants are having to wait over six weeks to receive any funds, with half of those in rent arrears reporting that they fell into debt after claiming Universal Credit. Over a third of those who fell into debt said that the long delay in receiving their first payment led them to take loans out elsewhere to tide them over while they waited.

Claimants can apply for an advanced payment while they wait for their first Universal Credit payment to come through. However, this payment is a loan which must be repaid when claimants begin to receive Universal Credit. As a result people are falling into debt at the very beginning of the process.

Speaking after the vote Mr Evans said: ‘The Tories and the DUP have shown their true colours after this vote. They are running scared of the Labour Party, as well as their responsibility for those in our society who are struggling financially. And now they plan to ignore the democratic will of Parliament and continue to press ahead with the roll out of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit will not arrive in Caerphilly borough until May 2018, so I will continue to fight for the pause of the programme before it is implemented here. I understand that 654 people in Islwyn will be affected by the switch over from their usual benefits to Universal Credit. This cannot be allowed to go ahead, all of the evidence shows that the system is not working. The Government talk a good game of listening to Parliament, yet once again they are too proud to admit just how shambolic their policy is. We must pause and fix it, and prevent any more vulnerable families from falling into debt.’

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