Mike Gapes, Member of Parliament for Ilford South, has criticised the delivery of Universal Credit which, according to a leading union, is leaving millions of people across the UK struggling to pay rent and other household bills.  Universal Credit, which replaces other benefits such as Employment Support Allowance and Income Support began rolling out in Redbridge in December 2017, and is calculated on a monthly basis according to income. The benefit will eventually be received by 14,250 households in Ilford South alone. The issue stems from fluctuation in the entitlement received by claimants between months despite actual employment income remaining the same. For example, a person assessed for Universal Credit from the period 18th May – 17th June 2018 would be paid by twice within that period if employed on a 4-week wage cycle but receive a reduced award as a result.

The diagram below explains how this would work.

The so-called ‘pay date effect’ was previously addressed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who had assured Unison, which represents public sector workers, that the consistency of pay dates would not lead to a reduced entitlement in some months. However the delivery of Universal Credit has already led to some in Ilford South not being able to afford basic necessities. One constituent in Ilford South received less than a quarter of her usual entitlement in June due to being assessed as having double her actual income in May/June. This worked out to be a fall from her usual entitlement of £575 to under £140, leading to her falling into rent arrears despite working hard to support her family

Mike Gapes MP wrote to the Department for Work and Pensions in July, and received the attached response. Mike said: “This issue is symptomatic of the disastrous rollout of Universal Credit across the country so far. People in Ilford South have already fallen into significant financial difficulties as a result of the Government’s unwillingness to resolve this issue and, frankly, the DWP response is not good enough. Our benefits system must properly support those who are entitled to claim, and blaming the employers of Universal Credit receivers fails to address the root cause of the problem which is Tory incompetence leading to misery for ordinary working families. I urge the DWP to listen to Universal Credit claimants and take steps to ensure that the system is fair.”

Ilford South constituents who are experiencing difficulties as a result of the rollout of Universal Credit are encouraged to contact Mike Gapes via email at mike.gapes.mp@parliament.uk.

Mike’s initial letter to the DWP, and the response received, can be viewed below:

Mike Gapes MP Letter to Esther McVey
Mike Gapes MP Letter to Esther McVey
Response from Alok Sharma MP, Minister of State for Employment
Response from Alok Sharma MP, Minister of State for Employment
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