‘Crackpot’ Universal Credit scheme slammed by trade union leader at Ashton-under-Lyne launch

By Neil Robertson

‘Shambolic, unworkable and unfair’ is how the leader of one million North West trade union members has described the Government’s controversial Universal Credit system, as Britain’s first pilot launches in Ashton-under-Lyne today.

Lynn Collins, Regional Secretary of the Trade Union Congress, claims that the scheme will affect five million people in low-paid work, families with disabled children and the unemployed.

Her union is spearheading a campaign against welfare cuts, as they tackle what she perceives as the Government’s ‘hostility’ to the welfare state.

“This is a crackpot scheme, which is designed to cut payments to the most vulnerable people and the working poor,” she said.

“Universal Credit is already costing a fortune, has not been thought through properly, is unworkable and will only worsen the gap between the haves and have nots.

“The Government should scrap it now before the poorest people pay the price for the Government’s hostility to our Welfare State.”

Claimants could lose around £68 a week, while families with disabled children could lose up to £1,400 for each disabled child, according to campaigners.

Payments will subsequently be paid to a household, not an individual.

The scheme will merge several benefits – including jobseeker’s allowance and income support – and tax credits into one monthly payout and will eventually affect nearly eight million people.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is responsible for making the changes which will begin in Greater Manchester today.

Ms Collins added that the Universal Credit scheme was on the ‘verge of disaster’, as the IT systems needed for it were not ready.

Planned pilots in three other areas of the North West – Oldham, Wigan and Warrington – have already been delayed.

Public and Commercial Services Union Regional Secretary Pete Middleman echoed Ms Collins’ claim that the scheme will disadvantage vulnerable people.

“Welfare cuts will only deepen record levels of inequality and the conspicuous absence of a plan for jobs and growth exposes the motivation as ideology rather than economics,” he said.

“Ministers are making it impossible for PCS members to deliver a service based on the based traditions of the welfare state but we will continue to work with the TUC and local campaign groups to defend the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Picture courtesy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, via Flickr, with thanks.

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