Over Christmas, the Conservative Party’s flagship policy of welfare reform will push more families into poverty as Universal Credit is rolled out across the UK, including further parts of the North Dorset constituency.
'Universal Credit' was intended to simplify the welfare system by combining different Government benefits into one, and ensuring that people were better off in work.
But, so far, it has failed. Many claimants have been left waiting for over two months for their first payment. And some have been relying on loans to survive. Rent arrears among Universal Credit claimants has risen steeply.
Lone disabled people are being hardest hit, with yearly losses up to £7,000 it is reported. Disability charities are calling for a radical overhaul of the system to end the chaos.
Hugo Mieville, North Dorset Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson, said:
"Universal Credit is set to replace the main means-tested benefits. These include not just 'Employment and Support Allowance' (ESA) and 'Jobseeker’s Allowance' (JSA), but also two benefits claimed by millions of low-waged employed people: 'Working Tax Credits' and 'Housing Benefit'. It has been 'rolled out', region by region, over a period of nine years. And now it is about to be 'rolled out' in parts of North Dorset before Christmas.
In other parts of the UK, the arrival of Universal Credit has been accompanied by a great deal of criticism from charities, churches and MPs of all sides - largely because of the minimum six week lag between claiming money and receiving any payment. This penalises people on low incomes and with few savings. Some claimants have been forced to borrow from money-lenders or to go to food banks - echoes here of Victorian times. The six-week delay has been described by the Archbishop of York as grotesquely ignorant."
As at the 29th November, 'The Department for Work and Pensions' say all single jobseekers in the UK can claim Universal Credit. In addition other people, eg couples and families, in the North Dorset constituency can now claim Universal Credit.
For other people, eg couples and families, the Jobcentre areas in and around the North Dorset constituency delivering the "full Universal Credit service" are:
Weymouth Jobcentre - From 6th December 2017
- DT2 (Dorchester Rural), etc.
- Blandford Jobcentre - From 12th October 2017
- DT11 (Blandford & district), DT10 (Sturminster, Stalbridge, etc.) and SP5 5 (Ashmore to Broadchalk).
- Salisbury Jobcentre - From 7th June 2017
- DT5 (except DT5 5), etc.
- Yeovil Jobcentre - From 20th April 2017
- SP7 (Shaftesbury & district), SP8 (Gillingham & district), etc.
Ringwood Jobcentre - From 7th December 2015
- BH21 (Cranborne to Wimborne), BH31 (Verwood), SP6 (Alderholt), etc.