Skip to main content

Universal Credit: Sanctions

Volume 633: debated on Monday 18 December 2017

9. What estimate his Department has made of the number of sanctions that will be applied each month as universal credit is rolled out. (902986)

The Department does not forecast numbers of sanctions that will be applied. We do not want sanctions to be incurred, but they do play an important part in reasonable conditionality.

Well, what an answer! Never would I accuse the Minister of dedolence, but I must say that that sort of Panglossian response shows an absence of empathy or understanding, particularly of the empirical evidence that we have had to date. My constituents see universal credit as a rock rolling down a hill next April. However, as this is Christmas and we are in the spirit of giving and generosity, will the Minister join me in my impetration to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority for additional secretarial support during those dark days when this awful universal credit is rolled out and over our constituents?

I think the hon. Gentleman is going to the west end to perform on the stage. He would feel so fulfilled. In fact, I think that he has already done so—perhaps just now.

I gently remind the hon. Gentleman that when I say that sanctions are considered to be a part of reasonable conditionality, it was also the approach that was taken up fully by the previous Labour Government. With regard to universal credit over Christmas, we have in place—as we do every year—robust processes to make sure that claims get paid. We can bring claims forward to make sure that things go smoothly, as we always seek to do before Christmas.

There is a matter of some dispute here between the Chair and the Table. I think that the hon. Gentleman is a representative of a petrocurrency, but Mycroft in front of me is not wholly convinced, so the matter remains as yet undetermined.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I refer the Minister to the question I raised with the Leader of the House on Thursday. Will the Minister provide an assurance that when the Department makes mistakes in the administration of universal credit, claimants will be fully compensated in claims backdated to the point where they will be no worse off?

I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s question. I have written to him today on this specific case. I do not know whether the response has yet come to hand following his question on Thursday, but I am happy to meet him and discuss it in detail. I understand that there was an issue about some of the information at the time the claim was made, and that there has been some backdating. We will talk about the matter later.