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Universal Credit: Advance Payments

Volume 631: debated on Monday 13 November 2017

I am keen to ensure that advance payments are made to my constituents in need, which is why I see the jobcentre and the citizens advice bureau, one after the other, every month. Does the Minister agree that the Labour party should start acting responsibly and join me in encouraging constituents to apply for this additional help, and tone down the political rhetoric, which could deter vulnerable people from applying in the first place?

I do. My hon. Friend knows, and the Labour party should acknowledge, that no one need go without money while they wait for their first regular payment. Labour should not try to put people off accessing the support that is there for them.

Today is exactly six weeks until Christmas day. Anyone who applies for universal credit today will have to make do on just two weeks of universal credit payments until after Christmas. What assessment has the Minister made of the impact on such families and their ability to let their children enjoy Christmas?

Our record on the timeliness of universal credit payments has improved markedly and, as the hon. Lady knows, advances are also available. I should also say that in the run-up to Christmas, when many temporary work opportunities are available, universal credit works much better for people, because they are able to access those opportunities, particularly on the verge of the festive season.

Very well: we have heard the right hon. Gentleman on Question 14, although he did not seek agreement to that proposition. He simply blurted it out, but we will accept that on this occasion.

We know that people on universal credit spend a great deal more time looking for work than others, and that they apply for a wider range of jobs and consider jobs that they may not have considered before. All that is part of why it involves significantly better labour market outcomes, and why people are more likely to be in work after six months than they were on the old benefits.