Universal Credit Report Claims Millions Will Lose £52 A Week

Chris York

Almost two in five Universal Credit claimants will lose £52 a week a new report has found, adding to growing calls for a rethink of the Government’s flagship welfare programme.

An analysis by the Policy in Practice consultancy seen by the Observer, found struggling homeowners, working single parents and the disabled will be the hardest hit unless urgent action is taken in the next budget.

Universal Credit has been rolled out in a few areas but full implementation is due next year.

In Liverpool it has already been branded the “slow killer”.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has already been warned that the Government faces a “significant” revolt by Tory MPs if he can’t find extra money for the new benefits system.

Around 30 Conservative MPs have concerns about the flagship welfare reform, which Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has acknowledged could leave some claimants worse off.

Tory MP Heidi Allen said “significant numbers of colleagues on my side of the House are saying this isn’t right and are coming together to say the Chancellor needs to look at this again”.

The MP, a member of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, said the number of fellow Tories with concerns was “approaching 30 now”.

The architect of the new system, former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said an additional £2 billion must be pumped into UC to make it operate as planned.

Allen told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “The two worst affected groups, and those that we should target financially, are single-parent families and second earners in families with children.

“To fix both of those would cost around £2 billion. I would argue that one of the ways of funding that – we have managed migration planned for next year, when we move all claimants across from the old benefits system, and the Government has put about £3 billion aside to protect those that would lose as a consequence of that.

“So if we boost the system before we get there, we can essentially save some of that £3 billion later down the line.”

On Thursday, McVey declined to confirm or deny reports she had told Cabinet colleagues that some claimants would lose out to the tune of £200 a month.

But challenged over a think-tank estimate that three million people will be about £1,800 a year worse-off due to the move to UC, McVey told the BBC: “I have said we made tough decisions and some people will be worse off.”