Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Universal Credit is a genuine game changer of a reform - very proud to support it

Trying to bring in wholesale welfare reform and change the benefits system so it rewards a gradual return to work is never going to be easy. Yet I genuinely believe that universal credit, in 10-20 years time, will be seen as one of the bravest and best reforms of the Coalition Government. Its roll out has been slow and steady - to try and make sure it is got right rather than rushed. This, in itself, is different to the norms of all governments, which have a tendency to announce and then be surprised that the devil is in the detail. It started in the north east Monday. 

This new, consolidated benefit will replace six working-age payments (jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit, working tax credit, child tax credit, employment and support allowance and income allowance) and should be on offer in all job centres next year. All parties support Ian Duncan Smith's reforms, although Labour constantly snipe that it is too slow, or not road tested enough. Such is their way. 

But don't take my word for it. I could refer you to right leaning papers estimations but take it from the Guardian. 

This from Mondays Guardian:
"The universal credit may well reduce the colossal benefits bill. But its primary purpose is to simplify the process for claimants, to base payments upon collated and up-to-date information (the hardest bit), and to reduce the marginal penalties and disincentives in the present system that dissuade claimants from taking on more work. Those who believe that Duncan Smith’s purpose is to shrink the state or slash public spending do not understand him. They may well despise his definition of “social justice” and its emphasis upon personal responsibility. But – in contrast to many Tories – he undoubtedly sees welfare through an ethical rather than a fiscal prism."

Some of the companies handling the complex computer programmes behind the roll out are in the North East. I have met some of these local people. We should be proud that it is north east based people helping bring about the change that takes away the benefit cliff edge and encourages a steady return to work, supported as you go. 
In my view the objective behind Universal Credit is this:
- it is as an important step towards a welfare system that protects the vulnerable, without promoting the economically and socially destructive phenomenon of dependency on the state. 

That is a project worth striving for.