Labour’s announcement that it could Scrap Universal Credit isn’t all it’s hyped to be

Last night The Daily Mirror reported that Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood MP has launched a review into Universal Credit. In a surprise move she didn’t stick to the “pause and fix” policy that Labour have blindly followed.

When asked if she would consider scrapping the controversial benefit, she told The Mirror; 

“We’re not ruling anything out, because we think it’s important to be on top of all of the detail of it before making a decision.”

Now this sounds like welcome news, but unfortunately I think it’s little more than positive PR before Greenwood’s speech to the Labour Conference today.

More reviews, more time wasted

Greenwood will tell the conference that she is commissioning a year long, YES A YEAR, consultation into redesigning the entire benefits system. Charities and individuals will be invited to submit proposals and evidence to help her team in coming to a decision.

This is an utter waste of time. There is a wealth of studies, data and opinions already out there. We could be facing a general election within months and Labour still have no clear policy on Universal Credit.

Conference let-down

In a double blow to Universal Credit claimants, all motions to debate scrapping Universal Credit were voted down. The Canary Writer, Steve Topple voiced his displeasure in his usual frank way.

Topple has been pushing very hard with a barrage of  articles explaining why Universal Credit must not just be stopped but scrapped. Like Topple, I am disappointed that the conference delegates have ignored claimants, unions and charities calls to debate scrapping it.

I must add that a motion on welfare is due to be debated but it is not clear what that will entail.

More vague promises

Margaret Greenwood after she beat Esther McVey for the Wirral West parliamentary seat in 2015

Greenwood also outlined several other policies that Labour would implement should they come to power.

  • Pledge to”end the benefits freeze” by raising rates in line with inflation every year.
  • Ban sanctions for those late to jobcentres.
  • Her “ambition” is to end all Atos, Capita and Maxima carrying out work capability assessments.

The pledge to raise benefits in-line with inflation is welcome but won’t catch up the money lost by the Tories freezing it in the first place.

Sanctions, one of the most punitive and punishing parts of Universal Credit would be overhauled too. NOT ended but changed. Greenwood’s announced that those late for Jobcentre appointments won’t be sanctioned. However, like now those that fail to attend will still face having their money cutoff unless they have a good reason.

Her final point about bringing health assessments back into public ownership is vague at best. It’s only an ambition to get rid off Atos and crew. This is unacceptable to many.

The three main private companies who assess claimants provide a service so poor that two thirds are overturned on appeal to the Tribunal. Anything short of dumping them is a failure to grasp the situation.

My view?

Honestly, it’s a non story really. However, it also angers me that Greenwood is going to waste another year. People are starving, struggling and DYING. They do not have a year.

The fact that Greenwood is addressing the conference tomorrow shows that this is little more that some PR to get people to tune in.

Honestly I feel let down. They’ve had plenty of time to look into solutions to Universal Credit and they have little or nothing to show for it.

Alex Tiffin

@RespectIsVital on Twitter

Universal Credit Sufferer on Facebook

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