There are serious problems with Universal Credit. In short, it doesn’t pay enough, it has been badly designed and poorly implemented, and it punishes the people least able to afford the penalties. This has undermined the security and wellbeing of the poorest in society.
Those who rely on Universal Credit are often working, including many public service workers who earn low wages and struggle to make ends meet. TUC research shows that in some regions of the UK, more than two-fifths of children in key worker households are living in poverty. It’s wrong that the people who we trust to take care of the most vulnerable in society are not paid enough to live on.
During the pandemic, the £20 uplift was a lifeline for these workers and its removal has created huge stress on household budgets. Since its removal, inflation has risen over three times faster than benefits and in-work poverty is pushing more and more keyworkers to rely on foodbanks and support from friends and family. This uplift needs to be restored urgently, to prevent families falling further into destitution.
In the longer term, there needs to be a replacement for Universal Credit to deliver a fair and dignified system for everyone, as one part of a more comprehensive social security system. It needs to be adequate, so that people can actually live on it.