It’s been obvious for many years that Universal Credit is failing. On this blog, I’ve considered a long series of critical reports. When I first made criticisms of the benefit – that was done on the same day that Iain Duncan Smith announced the measure – my concerns were about the concept and its practicability. Then the criticisms moved on to its implementation, and the impact of further complexity to make up for the deficiencies. Nowadays, the areas of concern are more likely to be focused on the abundant empirical evidence of failure – for a benefit that has still not fully been rolled out.
- making work pay
- increasing the level of benefit
- changing rules about conditionality and the initial waiting period
- changing the process
- altering the assessment periods, and
- changing rules for payment.
These are all ways to improve the benefit. I don’t think this goes anything like far enough. The fundamental problems will remain: a tapered benefit, a central focus on getting people to work when most of its claimants are either already in work or aren’t going to be in the labour market, and a reliance on information that can’t be supplied or managed. The TUC’s proposals are well meant, but they leave all of those elements in place.