Lib Dems make call for Universal Credit pause
Berwick Liberal Democrats have endorsed their party's call for the Government not to implement Universal Credit, which is due to launch in Northumberland soon, until problems with it have been tackled.
Universal Credit, which replaces six existing benefits with a single monthly payment for those who are out of work or on low incomes, will be introduced in Northumberland from November 8.
But the transition to the new benefit system has not been without controversy about its effect on claimants, as well as delays in its implementation.
Now the Lib Dems are urging the Government to halt the roll-out, arguing that unless it is paused, Universal Credit will drive tens of thousands of low-income families into poverty.
Berwick Lib Dems chairman Heather Cairns said: “The Liberal Democrats support Universal Credit’s aims of simplifying our welfare system and making sure work pays.
“However, those aims are being undermined by this Conservative Government’s mismanaged implementation of the changes.
“These problems are well known, so the process urgently needs to be paused and overhauled. If not, I fear that it will leave many of Northumberland’s most vulnerable people in even greater financial difficulty.”
Demanding the Government reconsider, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable wrote: “You would have to be hiding under a very large rock to not know about the serious problems affecting the roll-out of Universal Credit.
“The new benefit has been unravelled by deep cuts to its funding by the Conservatives combined with their stubborn unwillingness to fix glaring flaws in its design.
“Though initially designed to be more generous than the system it is replacing, in the 2015 summer Budget the Conservatives cut around £3billion per year from Universal Credit’s funding, making it in effect less generous.
“The result is a slow-motion disaster which risks failing to achieve its goals while needlessly pushing tens of thousands of households into poverty.
“The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit and fix its damaging design flaws, while restoring the billions of pounds cut from it in 2015.”