Skip to main content

Universal Credit Roll-out

Volume 652: debated on Monday 7 January 2019

The roll-out of universal credit is now complete and is available in every jobcentre across the United Kingdom. By 2023, all existing legacy claimants will have been moved to universal credit which, as set out in our business case, will result in £8 billion in economic benefits a year to the British economy.

Local authorities in Scotland have spent over £20 million on mitigating the harmful effects of UC, thus diverting money from key local services. Does the Secretary of State think this is acceptable, and was it envisaged when universal credit was conceived? Is it not more evidence that this system needs to be stopped and fixed to make it fit for purpose?

We do of course have the policy of new burdens funding, and in 2017-18 the Government paid out £30 million to local authorities across the country. If the hon. Lady has specific issues in relation to local councils on her patch, she should come forward as I will be very happy to have a discussion with her outside this oral session.

I would like to highlight one particular universal credit case that my office is dealing with. My constituent has incurable skin cancer which requires using a cream treatment. He has to use the cream at home and it needs to be applied for several hours every day. He has been told that as his treatment for cancer is not radiotherapy or chemotherapy he should be able to attend work. My constituent has daily and lengthy treatment for an incurable condition. Can the Secretary of State or the Minister tell me what my constituent should be applying for?

I am very sorry to hear about the distress the hon. Gentleman’s constituent is undergoing, and I thank the hon. Gentleman for his regular engagement with the jobcentre in his constituency. I would be very happy to discuss this case with him in detail and see what more we can do to support his constituent.

Last night on Twitter Steven McAvoy contacted me about the issue of disabled students being unable to access universal credit unless they have already passed their work capability assessment by the time they become a student. This is an incredibly difficult issue for some of the most vulnerable people in our constituencies, so will the Minister look into this again?

Can the Minister reassure my constituents who have heard claims that some housing associations are refusing to accept tenants in receipt of universal credit by giving an assurance that the Government will make sure this is never the case?

My hon. Friend has huge experience of the housing sector of course, and I thank him for the work he does in his constituency; I have been to visit him. The landlord portal has now been rolled out across almost 70% of the social housing sector, but I will be happy to discuss with him any specific cases he wants to raise.

I very much look forward to welcoming the Secretary of State to Stirling shortly. When she comes will she take time to visit the Jobcentre Plus at Randolph Field, where she can talk to work coaches who will give a far more positive story about the impact—the positive, life-changing impact—of universal credit than the critics on the other side of the House have given?

The Secretary of State has already outlined the visits that she has made, and I know that she is going to make many more. What my hon. Friend describes is something that I also consistently find when I visit job centres—namely, the huge enthusiasm and the real desire to help individuals. For the first time, jobcentre workers and work coaches are able to do precisely that, through the one-to-one support that was not possible under the legacy system.

If true, the reported U-turn on managed migration in response to considerable pressure from the voluntary sector and those on the Labour Benches, is welcome, but any attempt to avoid scrutiny is not. Can the Minister assure the House that those regulations will still be debated in full in this Chamber, and if so, when?

The Secretary of State has set out the position very clearly. Of course we will be bringing forward any potential new regulations. The hon. Gentleman and his colleagues talk a lot about supporting vulnerable people, but they voted against the £1.5 billion of support last year and against the £4.5 billion of support introduced in the Budget. He should be supporting those policies, not talking them down.