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Universal Credit (Transitional Payments)

Volume 529: debated on Monday 13 June 2011

5. What arrangements he plans to put in place for transitional payments for those who will be affected by the introduction of universal credit. (58785)

A package of transitional protection is being developed to ensure that there will be no cash losers as a direct result of the move to universal credit where circumstances remain the same.

I note the Secretary of State’s reply, but has he not taken into account the criticisms made of the policy by Family Action? They are, first, that it will not apply to new recipients; secondly, that changes in circumstances leading to the loss of cash protection have not been sufficiently defined; and most importantly, that the failure to give a commitment to uprating cash protection in line with inflation could mean up to 400,000 people losing out in real terms as a result of the policy.

I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but I would have thought he would welcome the idea that as we move to the new benefit, we are planning to cash-protect those who are already in receipt of other benefits. I do not think I really need to take too many lessons from his party, because when it scrapped the 10p tax band, it did not cash-protect anybody.

Will the Secretary of State accept that in ensuring that the transition means that people are cash-protected, he is managing to introduce the universal benefit, which would otherwise be almost impossible to do? That universal benefit will be of benefit to the work incentives of people up and down the country.

I am glad that my hon. Friend is more welcoming of the policy than the hon. Member for Glasgow North East (Mr Bain). Cash protection is there to protect those whose circumstances mean that they may have lost out slightly in the change to universal credit. They will not, because we will ensure that they are smoothed into the universal credit system unless there is a significant change in their circumstances. That is a positive gesture from the Government, and as I said, we do not need any lessons from Labour Members, who did not cash-protect people who were damaged when they scrapped the 10p starting rate.

Notwithstanding the fact that, as we have heard, the Government intend to provide transitional protection, will the Secretary of State explain why, for new claimants, their plans to abolish the disability element of child tax credit and replace it with a disability addition will mean a cut of 50% for families with disabled children? According not to Labour Members but to Family Action, that means that families with one disabled child, who are people in great need, are in line to lose £1,400 per annum. Why are disabled children bearing the costs of the Government’s welfare reforms?

I must say to the hon. Lady that they are not. Actually, our adjustments have been welcomed because they mean that more disabled people in difficult family circumstances will find themselves benefiting to a higher degree. Our changes will work well with universal credit. Also, the whole idea of bringing more disabled people into the work force has to be a good thing, or perhaps she disagrees with that.