Food banks furore: Amber Rudd admits botched roll-out of Universal Credit DID drive more benefits claimants to use them
- Amber Rudd says roll-out of universal credit has led to increase in food bank use
- She said people had ‘difficulty’ getting money early enough during initial roll-out
- Universal Credit is designed to combine several benefits into a single payment
- The scheme has been rolled-out across the UK in different phases from 2013
Welfare reforms are partly to blame for greater use of food banks, Amber Rudd admitted yesterday.
After years of official denials, the Work and Pensions Secretary said the roll-out of Universal Credit was one of the causes of growing hunger.
The monthly benefits payment, which merges six different benefits for working-age Britons into one, was supposed to be up and running by April 2017. Having faced numerous delays, it is now not expected to be fully operational across the country until December 2023.
When Universal Credit was first rolled out, recipients had to wait six weeks for their first handout. That limit has been cut by a week – but Miss Rudd said it was absolutely clear that the delays in claimants getting their benefits had meant more were forced to turn to food banks.
Amber Rudd said people being unable to access money ‘led to an increase in food bank use’. She said it was ‘absolutely clear’ there had been issues with roll-out of Universal credit [File photo]
Margaret Greenwood, Labour’s work and pensions spokesman, said: ‘The initial wait for Universal Credit is pushing many families into poverty, so it is no wonder that many people are being driven toward food banks.
‘It is astonishing that Amber Rudd has admitted this link yet she has failed to take action on the five-week wait. Labour will completely overhaul our social security system.’
Emma Revie, of the Trussell Trust food bank charity, said: ‘It’s promising to see the Secretary of State is listening to the evidence of food banks across the UK.
‘We’re a country that prides itself on making sure proper support is in place for each other when help is most needed – our benefits system was created to do exactly this. But Universal Credit isn’t the poverty-fighting reform that was promised.
Ms Rudd said it was ‘absolutely clear’ there had been issues with roll-out and said people being unable to access money ‘led to an increase in food bank use’. The DWP Secretary said: ‘We’re committed to a strong safety net where people need it’ [File photo]
‘What we need now is action, to address the reasons why Universal Credit has forced some people to food banks. The changes the Government has made so far won’t stop people needing them.’
Earlier this month the Trussell Trust said use of food banks had increased by 52 per cent in areas where Universal Credit had been in place for a year or more – compared with 13 per cent elsewhere. It provided 658,048 emergency supplies to families in crisis between April and September last year.
Miss Rudd’s admission came when Labour MP Sharon Hodgson asked her in the Commons about the impact of the roll-out of Universal Credit.
Invasion of the charity shops: Eight out of 20 businesses on…
Businessman, 58, who mounted jamming device on his BMW to…
Share this article
Miss Rudd replied: ‘We’re committed to a strong safety net where people need it. It’s absolutely clear there were challenges with the initial roll-out of Universal Credit and the main issue that led to an increase in food bank use could have been the fact that people had difficulties accessing their money early enough.
‘We have made changes to accessing universal credit so people can have advances.’ Pushed again on the issue by Labour’s Stephen Timms, Miss Rudd added: ‘I have acknowledged that people having difficulty accessing the money on time as one of the causes of the growth in food banks, but we have tried to address that.’
Asked later whether Theresa May agreed with the Work and Pensions Secretary’s assessment of the impact of Universal Credit on food bank use, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster media briefing: ‘We have long acknowledged that there were issues with the initial roll-out of Universal Credit’ [File photo]
Asked later whether Theresa May agreed with this assessment, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We have long acknowledged that there were issues with the initial roll-out of Universal Credit.
‘That’s why we have listened and made improvements … these changes are giving support to vulnerable people who need it most, while at the same time helping people get into work faster.’
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions added: ‘The Secretary of State was talking about the initial roll-out of Universal Credit. And while we have always said there are many reasons people use food banks and you cannot link to any one cause, we’ve responded quickly to the feedback we have had and made numerous improvements.’
Source: Read Full Article