Universal Credit: To pause it or to scrap it?

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By VIEW editor Brian Pelan

On Wednesday, September 27, the controversial Universal Credit benefits system was rolled out in Limavady.

Next on the ‘hit list’ are Ballymoney (November 15), Magherafelt and Coleraine (December 13), Strabane and Lisnagelvin (January 17), and Foyle and Armagh (February 7) with other areas across Northern Ireland being phased in throughout the rest of 2018.

Prior to the system being introduced in Limavady, local council officers were in touch with food banks over the roll-out of Universal Credit.

In otherwords there was an expectation that the new system would drive more people to use food banks.

Given that welfare reform, which includes the new system of Universal Credit, is aimed at slashing the costs of welfare, the Conservative government are aware – even if they don’t mention it – that food banks will have a key role to play. If they didn’t exist, people would literally be forced into starvation.

It is incumbent on mainstream journalism, including the BBC and UTV, to highlight the effects of a policy that will inflict widespread hardship on working class people.

Last week it was reported that some Tory MPS had signed a letter urging Theresa May’s government to slow down the implementation of Universal Credit across the UK.

The Scottish government has now also added its voice to the calls for a pause in the Universal Credit system.

And former government official Dame Louise Casey, who conducted a year-long study for ministers into community cohesion, has likened pressing ahead with the system to “jumping over a cliff”.

She said the changes, which involve merging six benefits into a single monthly payment, made her “hair stand on end”.

The danger though in the ‘pause argument’ is that it could allow the Goverment to make minor modifications before presssing ahead again with the policy.

Those affected by the cuts would surely like to see the Universal Credit system totally scrapped. Their voices are also important.


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