Make Universal Credit Fit for Families
Universal Credit, the new benefit being rolled out across the UK, is about to become a huge missed opportunity.
It’s not too late to turn it from a poverty-producing into a poverty-fighting tool. But it will take serious action from our government to help families.
The fact is, families are struggling. They need a Universal Credit that’s Fit for Families. And they need it urgently: recent research from the Resolution Foundation has shown that.
What parts of Universal Credit need to change?
The ‘tax’ on children – the government’s ‘two child limit’ which limits tax credit support to the first two children of every family, is estimated to push 200,000 more children into poverty by 2020, effectively amounting to a tax on children in large families.
This policy is both unfair and deeply illogical, since it assumes that before having a third or subsequent child, parents will be able to guarantee that they’ll always be able to fully afford the costs of their children. Who among us can guarantee that we’ll never lose a job, become sick, or go through a relationship breakdown?
The long wait for benefits – if you lost your job, could you definitely cover all your costs for the next six weeks, without any income coming in? Under Universal Credit, people who need to start a new benefits claim face a six week waiting period. With the delays caused by implementing the new system, this period without any support can be even longer, leaving some families in danger of destitution.
The ‘tax‘ on work – the cuts to the ‘work allowance’ mean benefits start being withdrawn earlier as people move into work. This will act as a disincentive to work and reduce incomes for the poorest working families by up to £2,800 a year. In the run up to the Autumn Statement, hundreds of CPAG supporters called on the Chancellor to drop the cuts to the work allowance. Although the Chancellor didn't do everything we wanted, he did make some concessions. You can follow our continuing work to make Universal Credit fit for families on our blog.
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