Skip to main content

Universal Credit

Volume 607: debated on Monday 14 March 2016

6. How many people his Department expects to be naturally migrated on to universal credit during this Parliament. (904055)

Universal credit is rolling out, with the live service available in over 90% of jobcentres, and full roll-out will continue according to the published plan. It is worth reminding everybody that it is complete in London, and very shortly—probably by the end of this month or the beginning of next—universal credit will be in pretty much every single jobcentre in the country.

The Secretary of State made reference earlier to unreliable predictions. He predicted that by today’s date 8 million people would be on universal credit, but the DWP confirmed last week that fewer than 365,000 people are on universal credit—a staggeringly pathetic success rate of 4.4%. The only reason why the Government are pushing out universal credit now is to deliver the tax credit cut that will hit thousands of working families in my constituency, so is it not time the quiet man went silent on pretending that universal credit is a success?

I hope that the Secretary of State does not think that this is a load of rubbish. I visited this morning, with Dame Steve Shirley, a wonderful place where young people with autism are prepared for work. They are very concerned about how universal credit is going to affect them, because they have already seen education not being allowed in their personal plans. Remember that autism costs this country £34 billion a year. If we do not get those young people into employment, the sum will increase and the misery of the families will also increase.

The hon. Gentleman is right. Autism is a real problem, and we want to help the young people and adults who have that problem as much as we can. Universal credit lends itself hugely to that. Unlike in the past, when those people would have gone from jobseeker’s allowance to working tax credits by themselves and had no advice, help or support once in work, under universal credit the adviser will stay with them all the way.

Importantly, we have now committed £100 million to train advisers to be specialists in helping people who have medical conditions such as autism, and that should help enormously. I would be very happy for the hon. Gentleman to come and discuss with me and the Minister for Disabled People what more we can do, because we are determined to make sure that universal credit helps those in the deepest need as much as it possibly can.

The Secretary of State told “The Andrew Marr Show” show on 6 December:

“Nobody will lose any money on arrival on universal credit from tax credits because they’re cash protected, which means there’s transitional protection. They won’t be losing any money.”

If there were any doubt about that reassurance, the Secretary of State repeated it earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne). But according to the Library, only 27% of the final case load for universal credit will have got there through managed migration, so 73% of them will not have received transitional protection. Apply that to the current tax credit claimants in work, and 2.3 million families will be worse off as a result of moving from tax credits to universal credit. [Interruption.] Oh, I will give you the question. Will the Secretary of State apologise to those families for giving such nonsensical reassurances?

I say to the hon. Gentleman that he is completely wrong on all that. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has made it absolutely clear that

“no family will take an immediate…hit”

when transferred to universal credit. That is a reality. They are cash protected. Therefore, as they move across, their income levels at the time will remain exactly the same. As we said earlier, we are transitionally protecting them. I just wish that the Opposition, unless they want to stay forever in opposition, would get with it and support universal credit instead of attacking it all the time.