Lord Freud, the minister in charge of reforming the benefits system, visited Rugby on Tuesday ahead of Universal Credit being introduced in the town on Monday.
The government’s controversial Universal Credit was due to be rolled out in Rugby last month. But then the date was moved to “by spring”, before the Advertiser learnt last week that it would come into effect on Monday November 25. Universal Credit rolls six benefits into one including JSA, income support, ESA, tax credits, housing benefit and support for childcare costs.
Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform, said: “Universal Credit is modern welfare that rewards people who move into work, supports those who’ve fallen on hard times and is fair to taxpayers.
“We are introducing Universal Credit in a slow, safe and controlled way. This careful approach is working well and we’re in a strong position as we bring Universal Credit to Rugby for the first time. We will build on these successes as Universal Credit continues to roll out.”
For now only “straightforward” claimant cases will be switched to Universal Credit.
A report from Rugby Borough Council’s welfare reform task group believes that the new system will reward work – but that some in town with children will lose out. Pete McClaren of Rugby Trade Union and Socialist Coalition said this week that Universal Credit was “in chaos”.
“Like the Bedroom Tax, Universal Credit is a vicious attack on the poor and ordinary working people, yet Labour aren’t opposing it,” he said.
“Universal Credit is aimed at getting people off benefits and into work, but this will simply not be possible with unemployment at two and a half million and at least five people chasing every job. All new claims are to be managed on line, yet a recent Citizens Advice Survey found 47 per cent of claimants had no internet at home.”