Universal Credit: too late to set it in stone

The Telegraph, which has a private line to Iain Duncan Smith’s bunker, reports his latest master plan: the transition to Universal Credit is going to be speeded up, by a ‘step change’, to stop Labour reversing the process if they win the next election.  He’s already too late.    The scheme has only been made accessible, to date, to the simplest cases: unemployed single people, who represent nearly all the current caseload, and most recently to unemployed couples.  Circumstances change, and a handful of those original claimants are now in different situations, but it’s still true that there few people getting Universal Credit at all, and very few indeed who are not on the equivalent of JSA. We know that, in the normal course of events, more than 80% of those people will not be jobless within a year.  It follows that even if enrolment to UC was to proceed rapidly, even if ten times the existing numbers were signed up in the next four months before the election, relatively few of them will remain on the  benefit in the longer term; and it follows from that that if an incoming Labour government wanted to stop Universal Credit and re-integrate people into JSA or Tax Credits, it wouldn’t be at all difficult to do it.  The only thing that could save the scheme is if the next government actively wanted to keep the Universal Credit scheme, and it’s difficult to see why any government – including one headed by the Conservatives – would want such a millstone round their neck.

One comment

  1. Jack

    Ed Miliband recently advised the political parties in northern Ireland to adopt Universal Credit – I don’t think he would have done this unless Labour plans to retain UC and expand it.

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