WBG welcomes Amber Rudd’s announcements on Universal Credit, but underlying problems still remain

Date Posted: Friday 11th January 2019

11 January 2019

Social SecurityUniversal Credit

Responding to Amber Rudd’s announcements on Universal Credit today Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the UK Women’s Budget Group said:

‘We welcome the announcements made today and urge Amber Rudd to go further to tackle the major problems with Universal Credit which are pushing too many women and their children into poverty.

The decision to exclude children born before April 2017 from the two child limit is only right. However, children born after that date are still being unfairly penalised and the infamous rape clause will continue. 

We are glad that Amber Rudd does not intend to continue with the benefit freeze beyond 2020. The freeze has pushed families, and in particular lone parents, (the majority of whom are women) into poverty. At a time of rising costs there is no justification to continue the freeze for another year. If the government is serious about ending austerity the benefit freeze should be lifted immediately.

Amber Rudd’s decision to delay the transfer of people from the old benefits and tax credits system onto Universal Credit shows that she recognises the serious underlying problems with Universal Credit. These include:

Payment into a single bank account, which increase women’s vulnerability to financial abuse

A single monthly payment which makes it harder for families to budget and means that families can be left with no income if there is a delay in payment or a sanction.

Benefit sanctions which have been increasing in severity and conditionality is now applied to previously exempt groups (e .g . more lone parents and disabled people).

Reduced incentives for second earners to enter paid employment or work more hours compared to the tax credits system, which increases women’s financial dependence and risk of poverty if a relationship ends.

The five week wait for UC payments which is forcing many families into debt.

 The requirement of parents of 3-4 year olds, including lone parents to be available for work.

We hope that the announcement today will be the start of further scrutiny of Universal Credit by the government and that their commitment to ending austerity will now be reflected in further progressive changes.

Media contact

Thaira Mhearban, Communications Officer

077366 58951 / thaira.mhearban@wbg.org.uk

About Women’s Budget Group

The Women’s Budget Group (WBG) is an independent network of leading academic researchers, policy experts and campaigners.

Our vision is of a caring economy that promotes equality between women and men.