Rugby MP discusses universal credit's shortcomings with government minister

Rugby's MP Mark Pawsey met with a government minister to discuss the shortcomings of universal credit following the release of a report which crit

Friday, 20th July 2018, 2:01 pm
Updated Friday, 20th July 2018, 2:23 pm
File photo: Mark Pawsey.

On Monday July 16 Mr Pawsey met with minister of state for employment, Alok Sharma, to raise some of the concerns Rugbeians have expressed over the roll-out of the benefit.

Mr Pawsey said some residents are concerned about: "The transition from being in receipt of universal credit to moving onto the state pension, which had caused challenges for older residents, and the difficulties arising from an individual’s payday falling on different days each month, leading to inaccurate assessments of their income."

The meeting with Mr Sharma came after Mr Pawsey met with representatives from Rugby’s Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) following the publishing of a report from the Nation Audit Office (NAO) which criticised universal credit on several counts.

The report states universal credit has taken ‘significantly longer’ than expected to be rolled-out, it may be more expensive than the previous benefits system and, it argues, the Department for Work and Pensions may never be able to properly measure whether universal credit has increased employment levels.

TUSC described that meeting as 'productive', stating that Mr Pawsey listened to the concerns presented - although he would not agree with TUSC's description of universal credit as being 'universally flawed'.

Mr Pawsey told the Advertsier: “Earlier this week I met with Alok Sharma MP, minister of state for employment, to discuss a number of areas in which universal credit can be improved following issues drawn to my attention by Rugby residents.

"Advising ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions of these concerns is a crucial element of the ‘listen and learn’ strategy adopted by the government so that they can identify areas for improvement as universal credit is rolled out.

“I was also able to let the Minister know how positively staff at Rugby Jobcentre view universal credit compared to the previous benefits system following my meeting with staff there last week."

Rugby was one of the five boroughs where universal credit was rolled out in 2016. Mr Pawsey said feedback from Rugbeians during its roll-out has helped to improve universal credit. He added: "I will of course continue to inform ministers of any further issues raised with me by my constituents and I would urge anyone who encounters a problem with their universal credit claim to contact me so that I can investigate their concerns.”