A number of constituents have contacted me about calls to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit.
It is important not to lose sight of the fact that the welfare system was in urgent need of reform and the Universal Credit system was designed with the intent of making it easier for people to move into employment and ensuring that it would always pay to be in work. This principle was accepted by all major parties in parliament. I welcomed the announcement of Universal Credit at the time and still maintain that the system has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people for the better.
However I recognise that the system is not yet working perfectly and while the Government has already implemented some important changes, there are still some problems that need addressing. I have previously made representations to the Prime Minister and Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions about the concerns that have been raised with me by individuals and organisations in my constituency about Universal Credit.
The Government has demonstrated it is in listening mode and I was encouraged last year when in response to the lobbying by myself and several colleagues (on both sides of the House), the Government announced an additional £1.5 billion package of support for the Universal Credit system. I am continuing to press the Government on the need to take an evidence-based approach to the roll-out and in the House of Commons Chamber on 16th October I told DWP Minister Alok Sharma that while I have strong support for the principles and intent of Universal Credit, I would be supportive of increasing its funding and making further changes to it if needed in order to make sure Universal Credit works as intended.