Bolton MP challenges Secretary of State over Universal Credit

Conservative Bolton West and Atherton MP Chris Green has used his first appearance on the Work and Pensions Select Committee to challenge the government on universal credit and call for a ‘fire break’ in the scheme’s rollout.

The influential committee of MPs had called David Gauke, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to its Wednesday morning session.

Universal credit is a new benefit aimed at making claiming easier for people whilst also improving incentives to work. There have been fears that the benefit, which merges six existing payments into one, will lead to a delay in waiting times for those claiming.

Speaking during the evidence session, Chris said: “We are hearing mounting evidence of concerns and problems whether it is the eviction level arears which are increasingly becoming apparent in certain housing associations, the difficulties of people getting advanced payments and 10% of people using Citizen Advice Bureau’s services waiting over 10 weeks.

“There seems to be mounting evidence that there are problems within the system and surely there ought to be very significant fire break now to reconsider.”

He added: “I agree with the idea and vision behind Universal Credit, I think it’s a very good thing.

“But when you see the problems mounting up and you see that the rollout is only going from 8 percent to 10 percent in January when it should have already pretty much been completed, if this is such a good thing but actually it has been delayed and delayed and delayed so people aren’t going to get the support they need to get into work, do we have to pause and reconsider significantly changing Universal Credit and then come back again?